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The issue is that the AI can generate all viable versions of the article by front-running someone else’s style.

Our society is built on the assumption that attackers are inefficient or dumb.

If the AI is generating content using a corpus which 1) has copyright attached (say Matt Levine's content for Bloomberg) and 2) isn't owned by the person/corporation that developed the AI, then you're absolutely right and waters are muddied. An argument could be made that the end-product is transformative enough to be its own things, eligible for copyright, but use and, presumably, copying of the original content into a corpus would seem a violation of that copyright.

On the other hand, if Tencent owned the corpus, that isn't really an issue. Similarly, there have been automated finance articles for more than a decade using knowledge extraction algorithms against things like earnings reports, and copyright of those reports has not been an issue. Admittedly, that may only be because those releasing the reports do so in part to get the word out, and so they want reporting to be done on them. Even if they had a copyright claim that it wasn't fair use, they may not have the incentive to enforce it.

Regardless, this all opens up some fascinating discussions of the agency of AI, what constitutes true AI vs. a simple program or algorithm, assignment of who actually would own the copyrights of computer generated content... I think it's going to take some time for the law to catch up to technology on these topics.

Copyright’s stated purpose was to promote the Progress of useful arts and science. That’s why the monopoly was secured to the authors.

Bots don’t care about those incentives. Once built, that’s all they do.

Yes, but the people writing and running the bots still care about those incentives. So it makes sense that they should own the copyright to the articles they generate with their bot.

I disagree — because the goal was to promote a laborious activity. Once we reach a whole new level, we no longer need to give the same incentives. It’s clear that people would be doing this even without copyright.

Now THAT is the first reasonable argument I've heard against copyright for such things. Once it becomes easy, trivial, and for most purposes "free" to hit button and make a best-selling novel, a temporary monopoly on that work wouldn't seem to benefit the goal of incentivising future work. Of course, the person/people that built the system may still need some type of temporary monopoly to incentivize refinements, increased quality, genre variation, etc., maybe even the ability to tailor made a novel to a specific individual's tastes for them alone... but I'm not sure "copyright" would then be the best tool for this. I think there would need to be something new and, given that I think copyright terms are already extremely too long, much shorter than traditional copyright.

Thanks for such an insightful idea! I'm not 100% sure which side I come down on, but it's very thought provoking, the sort of discussion that draws me in to HN.

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