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AI Generated Content platform found to infringe Ultraman copyright by Internet Court in first judgment of its kind

Artificial Intelligence Generated Content (AIGC) is a technology that accelerates the content creation process by allowing humans to provide instructions and intent information through prompts to a platform that generates content accordingly. Through prompts, users are able to teach and guide the model to automate the creation of images and text.


Ultraman is a Japanese science fiction media franchise and pop-culture phenomenon, which started life with the television series Ultra Q in 1966.


IP infringement action was brought after prompts such as “Ultraman with long hair” into a AIGC platform generated corresponding images.  Shanghai Xinchuanghua Culture Development Co., Ltd, the authorized copyright holder of Ultraman in China, brought a lawsuit against the platform.


Original Ultraman


 

Ultraman images generated by infringing platform





The judgment

In February 2024, Guangzhou Internet Court issued the judgment (2024) YUE 0192 MIN CHU No.113) on the grounds of copyright infringement. The Judge recognized that:

1) Given that the generated images just added new elements to, or partly, even completely, produced the artistic character of Ultraman, the platform infringed the right of adaptation and reproduction.

2) According to “Interim Administrative Measures for Generative Artificial Intelligence Services”, when providers of generative artificial intelligence services discover infringing content, measures such as cease generating, cease transferring and deleting content shall be taken immediately. Providers shall train and update the model and report the infringement to relevant departments. In this case, the platform did not take any measures when it realized the existence of infringement.

3) The platform did not reach the standard of reasonable care due to the lack of complaint system and warning signs of potential risks. The platform should have noticed its users that “AIGC service should not be used to infringe other’s copyright”. As soon as the platform detected the potential risks of infringement, it should have marked the generated content and warned the user.


The Judge ordered that “the platform shall compensate RMB 10,000 to the copyright holder” (approx. US$ 1,400).


Analysis

As the first case regarding infringement by a AIGC platform, this judgment emphasizes that the platform must build a complete mechanism of complaint and give adequate warning to users to clarify the risks of copyright infringement. This case is a precedent of implementing the “Interim Administrative Measures for Generative Artificial Intelligence Services” which shows China is exploring the way to regulate advancing AI technology by clarifying the supervision obligations of AI service provider. Next step, AI companies may conduct internal compliance to avoid legal risks.  


Rightsholders can have more confidence in enforcing their copyright against AIGC platforms. Those companies using AIGC or providing such services should take steps to avoid infringement.

 

Authors: James Godefroy, Principal and Annie Liang, IP Specialist

 

Sources:

A Comprehensive Survey of AI-Generated Content (AIGC): A History of Generative AI from GAN to ChatGPT

 Judgment of (2024) YUE 0192 MIN CHU No.113 (published 8 February 2024)

 

 

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