This third part of our four-part series on using synthetic data to train AI models explores the interplay between synthetic data training sets, the EU Copyright Directive and the forthcoming EU AI Act.

On October 19, 2023, the U.S. Copyright Office announced in the Federal Register that it will consider a proposed exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (“DMCA”) anti-circumvention provisions which prohibit the circumvention of any technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works.  The exemption would allow those researching bias in artificial intelligence (“AI”) to bypass any technological measures that limit the use of copyrighted generative AI models.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently affirmed a decision by the U.S. Copyright Office (“USCO”) in which the USCO denied an application to register a work authored entirely by an artificial intelligence program.  The case, Thaler v. Perlmutter, challenging U.S. copyright law’s human authorship requirement, is the first of its kind in the United States, but will definitely not be the last, as questions regarding the originality and protectability of generative AI (“GenAI”) created works continue to arise.  The court in Thaler focused on the fact that the work at issue had no human authorship, setting a clear rule for one end of the spectrum.  As the court recognized, the more difficult questions that will need to be addressed include how much human input is required to qualify the user as the creator of a work such that it is eligible for copyright protection.

On June 6, 2023, New York Senate Bill S5640 / Assembly Bill A5295 (“S5640”) won near-unanimous final passage in the New York Assembly with a 147-1 vote, after being passed unanimously by the Senate the previous week.  If signed into law by Governor Hochul, the legislation would, effective immediately, add to New York labor law a new section 203-f that renders unenforceable provisions in employee agreements that require employees to assign certain inventions developed using the employee’s own property and time. 

In a unanimous decision published on May 18, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated two of Amgen’s patents for its cholesterol drug, Repatha, making it more difficult for patentees to obtain broadly worded patents.[1]  The case – Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi – involves a dispute between the two pharmaceutical companies over the “enablement” requirement of 35 U.S.C. Section 112,[2] specifically how much a patent must disclose in order to “enable” a skilled person to make and use the claimed invention without undue trial and error.  The Supreme Court held that Amgen failed to provide enough detail to recreate the full scope of its claimed invention, and that if a patent claims an entire class of processes, machines, manufactures or compositions of matter then the patent must include sufficient information that enables a person skilled in the art to make and use the entire class.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Second Circuit in the case of Andy Warhol Found. for Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith in a 7-2 decision issued May 18, 2023, authored by Justice Sotomayor.  The Court held that the first factor of the copyright fair use test favored respondent photographer, Lynn Goldsmith, rather than petitioner, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (“AWF”).  The decision was limited to AWF’s commercial licensing of a silkscreen image of Prince, based on Goldsmith’s underlying photograph, to Condé Nast.  Below, we have highlighted the key factual background in the case and some takeaways from the Court’s decision. For more information, please see Cleary Gottlieb’s client alert.

What You Need To Know

  1. From 1 June 2023, a new EU unitary patent system (UPS) will become fully effective. A unitary patent (UP) is a European patent granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) to which, at the patent owner’s request, unitary effect is given for the territory of the EU Member States that have ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement – currently, 17 EU Member States. UPs give patent owners uniform protection across participating EU Member States, removing the need for national validation procedures as well as individual national enforcement in each EU Member State.

On 16 March 2023, the US Copyright Office (“USCO”) published guidance on the registration of works containing AI-generated content. The USCO’s policy statement was released against the backdrop of the proliferation of generative AI tools which are able to create content based on user prompts. The USCO ultimately concluded that the “authorship” requirement of US copyright law refers to “human authorship” (in line with prior case law) and appears to reject the extension of copyright to works generated with the aid of AI technology outside of the user’s control.