• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Artificial intelligence and copyright infringement under the Nigerian law

Ten things to know about new ChatGPT-4o

The world has come to love artificial intelligence (AI) for its efficiency and speed in carrying out human-like activities. Open AI’s Chat GPT, a major innovation of AI, has made various tasks like writing papers, articles, and preparing presentations and portfolios, very easy for us.

I personally engage Chat Gpt from time to time and I must confess that I see why it is a trending topic in the world, considering how stress-free it makes work through its ability to provide information and answer questions on a wide variety of topics, including general knowledge, science, history, technology, creative writing. It also helps with brainstorming ideas, writing stories, or coming up with engaging content.

While this is quite commendable, some would even describe it as a breath of fresh air, one cannot help but wonder if there are laws which protect owners of already published works from intellectual property theft by users of Chat Gpt in Nigeria.

New to Chat Gpt? Let’s do some introduction!

Chat Gpt is an AI language model developed by OpenAI. It has been trained on a wide range of internet texts from various sources, allowing it to assist with answering questions, providing explanations, generating text, and engaging in conversations on diverse topics.

Its purpose is to understand and generate human-like text, based on the prompts and inquiries it receives while striving to assist users by offering helpful and informative responses.

Where does Chat Gpt receive the information it shares?

Chat Gpt works as an auto-generative chat that extracts data from textbooks, newspapers, websites and different articles. It gets this data and processes it using Natural Language Processing (NLP), to make it understandable and as similar as possible to human language.

For the avoidance of doubt, I decided to ask Chat Gpt itself.

Me: “Who owns the information you generate?”

Chat Gpt: “As an AI language model, I don’t have ownership over the information I generate. The information I provide is based on a mixture of licensed data, data created by human trainers, and publicly available data.”

This means Chat Gpt has no ownership rights of the information it shares, neither does it lay any form of claim to same.

At this juncture, it is important to note that Chat Gpt provides references to the original source of the information it is asked to produce, using Chat Gpt extension, hence it is arguable that, if Chat Gpt writes an article for you and the majority of the information released by the chat model comes from a particular website, you cannot claim ownership to that article, even though you are the end user.

Copyright infringement

A copyright in an intellectual work is that exclusive right of the author of the original work to control or enable the doing of certain expressly stated acts in respect of the whole or substantial part of the work either in its original form or in any other recognisably derived from the original form but subject to certain statutory exceptions.

In simple terms, copyright is the exclusive right the owner of a work has to use his work as he wishes. The Copyright acts 2022 states in Section 6 that the works that can be protected by copyright are; literary works, Musical works, Artistic works, Cinematograph films, Sound recordings and Broadcasts.

Copyright infringement is the use or production of copyright-protected material without the permission of the copyright holder. Section 36 of the Copyright Act 2022 explains someone who infringes on another’s copyright as anyone who uses or reproduces, a copyrighted work without the licence or authorisation of the owner of the copyright.

A copyright owner whose rights have been infringed through any of the acts stated above can enforce such rights through civil proceedings. Copyright infringement also carries criminal liability with penalties of fines and terms of imprisonment.

The Nigerian copyright commission is usually the prosecutor in such action. However, the fact a criminal action has been instituted against the infringer does not deprive the copyright owner of his right to institute a civil action against the infringer.

What constitutes an infringement for a Chat Gpt user?

According to section 131 of the Nigerian Evidence Act 2011, the burden of proof in civil cases rests on he who asserts a fact. Therefore, anyone claiming that his copyright has been infringed must prove that indeed a substantial part of his work has indeed been infringed on.

In addition to the above, a claimant in a copyright infringement suit must satisfy the court that:

a. Copyright subsists in the work allegedly infringed;

b. Ownership of copyright in the work is vested in the claimant being a direct owner or by virtue of being an assignee or licensee of copyright in the work

c. defendant has done an act, in relation to the work which is exclusive to the claimant;

d. The defendant has no authority to do the act complained of. (Section 42 of the Copyright Act)

The claimant must also satisfy the court with proof that the defendant had access to the work, and of course, there is an adequate similarity between the plaintiff’s work and the defendant’s work

Having explained that Chat Gpt does not own the information it generates, questions that come to mind are, what happens when the owners of already published works discover that a substantial part of their work has been reproduced by someone else using Chat Gpt?

Who bears the consequences of the infringement? The creators of the model chat box? The AI model itself? Or the users of the model chat box

These are questions that are likely to face the courts soon and the world, particularly, Nigerians await to see whether the Copyright Act would indeed protect owners of copyright.

My theory is that it will be the users of Chat Gpt who will be held liable for an infringement because, via Chat Gpt extension, users are provided with the reference links to the original source of the released information, therefore a defendant in a copyright infringement suit cannot claim to not have known that the work he infringed on, originally belonged to someone else.

Read also:Education companies’ shares fall sharply after warning over ChatGPT

AI’s attempts to make life seemingly easier for us using Chat Gpt is a major milestone in the world today. It is of great advantage that the chat box model through the Chat Gpt extension now includes attribution to the original source of the information, which serves as reference points.

This has been helpful for the sake of enhancing credibility, and accuracy, stopping the spread of fake news, and most importantly, protecting the rights of published authors, whose online works serve as web sources for the model chat box.

The remedies available to a claimant whose copyright has been clearly infringed, after he has sought redress in court include; seeking damages, an injunction against the infringer to resist from continuously using his work and accounts of profits; for cases where the defendant has been making profits off the infringed work, right of conversion; this means that all reproduced infringed works will be the property of the original author of the work.

For infringed content posted online, the Copyright Act 2022, in Section 54, gives the owner of the copyright, the power to issue a notice of the infringement to the relevant service provider requesting the service provider to take down or disable access to any infringing content or link to the content, hosted on its system or network, and if the infringement persists, the service provider has a right to suspend or block the account of the infringer. More so, the Nigerian Copyright Commission also has the right to block access to an infringed work (Section 61 Copyright Act, 2022).

Ijeoma Okorie is a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property and entertainment law.