Monday, April 1, 2024

Section 230 and AI [WSJ]

 The AI Industry Is Steaming Toward A Legal Iceberg [March 29, 2024]

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 has long protected internet platforms from being held liable for the things we say on them. (In short, if you say something defamatory about your neighbor on Facebook, they can sue you, but not Meta.) This law was foundational to the development of the early internet and is, arguably, one reason that many of today’s biggest tech companies grew in the U.S., and not elsewhere.

 Yup, ChatGPT != Facebook.

And as companies like OpenAI argue in legal briefs over whether scraping copyrighted content from the internet counts as theft of intellectual property, they may actually be hurting their case that they aren’t responsible for the content their systems produce. 

Some AI companies have argued that their AIs “substantially transform” all the content they are trained on. That means, they argue, that they don’t violate copyright protections, under the doctrine of fair use. If that is true, it would seem to indicate they are “substantial co-creators” of the content they are displaying. That is the point at which a company is no longer merely hosting content, and loses the protection of Section 230, says Ryan.

An interesting bind!