According to a recent Ars Technica article, because generative AI is such a new technology, courts have not yet ruled on a number of copyright implications. If courts decide that Stability AI (the startup that created Stable Diffusion) violated copyright law, it would have massive repercussions on the tech industry. Tech startups building generative AI models could potentially be required to secure licenses from perhaps millions of copyright holders, which would likely kill their revenue models. “The process would likely be so slow and expensive that only a handful of large companies could afford to do it. Even then, the resulting models likely wouldn’t be as good. And smaller companies might be locked out of the industry altogether.”
In addition to the above, there were two other recent developments of note. First, a new ruling from the U.S. Copyright Office suggests that AI-generated images cannot be considered creative work and are not subject to copyright protection. Secondly, there is also currently a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether patents can only be issued to human inventors or if an AI system can be the legal creator of inventions it generated.
Whichever way this plays out, it will likely create a ripple effect across the tech sector. It remains to be seen whether the winners will be the creative artists, tech startups, or Big Tech.