ChatGPT and authors, is intellectual property over?

A few months ago at a writers' meeting I was asked whether our role was in danger with the emergence of ChatGPT. I admit that the question surprised and frightened me in equal parts. I must be naive, but I would never have thought of using a chatbot to write my books. However, in a very short time, we have so normalised the presence of these tools in our lives that for many they have become the new Google.

Find out more about the relationship between ChatGPT and authors - is intellectual property over?
Nuria Vidal

Nuria Vidal

Reading time: 3 min

Your manuscript? -I can’t help but wonder – will it really be yours if you use AI?

What seemed like science fiction to me so recently is now a reality, so it is time, once again, to exchange fear for knowledge, hence this article.

Researching the subject, I see that, as in everything else, there are currents, more or less catastrophic opposing ideas, but what is clear is that tools such as ChatGPT put copyright and intellectual property rights in check.

Intellectual Property Law

Let’s see: the current Law on Intellectual Property considers as author “the natural person who creates any literary, artistic or scientific work”. And it considers “all original literary, artistic or scientific creations” as the object of this law.

Two words stand out from the previous paragraph: “person” and “originals”.

Is AI a person? No. Are texts or ideas that are the result of other existing texts and ideas original? No. Therefore, I think we can agree that texts or other artistic or scientific works generated by AI are not covered by copyright law, i.e. they are not subject to copyright.

No one who uses these techniques for the creation of his or her works can claim to be the author of those works. So far, so good.

But how can we be sure: can we trust the authorship of a book signed by a writer and rule out that there is no trace of AI in it?

Well, it seems to be more or less under control. There are tools to detect AI-generated texts, we could even ask ChatGPT if a text has been created by itself (yes, it’s a vicious circle that’s kind of funny). Moreover, I would like to believe that publishers nowadays are very aware of this and take care of the originality of what they publish as such. If this is the case, we writers who rely “only” on our human and limited minds would not be at a disadvantage.

At this point in the article you might think I’m breathing easier, but I’m not. That’s the thing about information, it gives you power… but it also gives you other perspectives.

At the beginning of my modest research I was worried that nobody would sign a text that wasn’t theirs… but now I’m worried about ChatGPT and company using texts that do belong to someone else.

Let me explain. Authorship of a work not only proves that you are the author, but also protects your work from exploitation by others. Even if a text, a piece of research or any other work has been published openly, if it is subject to copyright, anyone who uses it is obliged to cite the original source.

However, when the AI generates a text, it does so by resorting to countless existing documents, texts, research and creations of any kind, resulting in an informative “concoction” with a mixture of all of them, without guaranteeing their veracity and, of course, without citing their authors. This blatantly violates intellectual property rights and, as you can imagine, is unleashing a wave of lawsuits that are difficult to resolve, as there is currently no global legislation that guarantees the same protection against AI anywhere in the world.

At this point, we could conclude that AI is here to stay and that it will certainly continue to grow. In many areas of our lives we will learn to coexist with it, even to benefit from it, but in others, such as the creation of artistic or scientific works, and also in education, where its impact could be the subject of another article, we must be careful.

No technological progress should trample on anyone’s work and effort, and this can only be guaranteed by global legislation adapted to the paradoxical artificial reality.


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