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May 1, 2023 - The future is now. Generative artificial intelligence ("AI") is being used to generate new content, including text, images, animation, video, software code and music. Although AI itself is not new, it has come into sharp focus in recent months, accelerated by the availability and widespread adoption of user-friendly programs such as ChatGPT1, DALL-E, Stable Diffusion/Dream Studio, Midjourney, Jasper and CopyAI. The only thing that seems to be outpacing the technological advancements AI is bringing on, is the complex array of legal issues it is creating.
There are numerous content-related applications for AI among media and entertainment companies, depending on the type of company (e.g., publisher, video game company, creative agency, studio/production company) and the specific use cases. Potential applications include generating ideas and content, fact-checking, editing text, moderating misinformation and content targeting and ranking. Already, to name a few of the use cases among media and entertainment companies, we have seen publishers such as CNET using AI to assist in the writing of certain content2 and BuzzFeed embracing AI to enhance and personalize certain types of content offerings, video game creators such as Naughty Dog using AI to create the environment for the highly popular “The Last of Us” video game, creative agencies using AI for different content creation, and entertainment companies adopting AI technologies to augment visual effects, preserve and colorize film, localize content, alter actors’ facial expressions3 , age and de-age actors’ faces4, and generate synthetic human voices. This article will focus on content (not code) generation applications and key U.S. legal considerations bearing upon them.
The legal landscape surrounding the use of AI for content applications is uncertain and rapidly evolving; some have likened the current stage of AI to the early days of Napster.5 The use of AI tools involves legal and reputational risks that clients (and media and entertainment companies in particular) must carefully manage. We address below some of the legal and ethical considerations associated with the creation of so-called “synthetic media.”
As media and entertainment companies determine how AI can play a role in optimizing their content-creation generation processes, they should consider developing robust governance around the use of AI, hand-in-hand with responsible, self-regulatory codes of conduct28 and best practices to mitigate legal and reputational risk and preserve brand safety.
Consideration should be given to adopting the following specific practical steps and guardrails:
The introduction of AI for creation of synthetic media is a potentially transformative moment for the media and entertainment industries, but carries with it significant uncertainties. As the landscape rapidly evolves, the implementation of robust governance and frameworks may help to mitigate some of the legal and reputational risks that media and entertainment companies face when deploying AI as part of their content generation processes.