Imagine you have a pile of sand.
You remove a grain. Is it still a pile of sand?
You remove grain by grain until there is only one left. Is it still a bunch?
If not, when did the stack become a non-stack?
This paradox of the heap can serve you well today as tension around AI-generated content thickens around the world.
Get Robert Rose’s perspective in this week’s CMI News video, or keep reading for highlights:
Most relevant AI news for marketers
But the most exciting news for short-term content marketing strategies came from guidelines issued by the US Copyright Office. It specifies what constitutes owner content – the work must be created by a human (as it always has been.) Thus, anything created or created by generative AI tools cannot be protected by copyright laws . So if you create content using an AI generator, you (or your brand) do not own that creation.
Now, if you consider the multitude of lawsuits filed around AI content, including Getty Images vs. Stability AI and a lawsuit against Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI for their use of AI technology to create Copilotyou might think the courts will settle AI cases quickly.
But CMI’s chief strategic adviser, Robert Rose, says no and uses the Note from the United States Copyright Office to make his point:
In the case of works containing AI-generated material, the Office will consider whether the AI contributions are the result of a “mechanical reproduction” or rather of an author’s “own original mental design, to which (the author) has given a visible form”. The answer will depend on the circumstances, in particular how the AI tool works and how it was used to create the final work. This is necessarily a case-by-case investigation.
Now Robert is not a lawyer. He’s a marketing practitioner who spoke to a few advocates on the subject and found there was no consensus. So his advice to use on a case-by-case basis comes from his marketing perspective.
Copyright litigation appeal
“In a very short time, as an industry bridging content creators and AI technology, you will decide whether the tool in question is real AI, running off of a real model of learning or if it’s fake AI by just scraping the content and reassembling it,” says Robert.
Be careful when drawing your conclusions. Considering the hype around AI, some nefarious solutions will appear which are not real artificial intelligence and will make it hard to tell the difference.
That’s why, says Robert, you need to be aware of the AI tool’s learning model and how it can use your content. For example, Adobe Firefly only uses its image library in its training model. This undoubtedly weakens its ability to do what other image-generating AI tools can do, but it can become a much safer application. Mid Road, however, uses the hashtag – #AllTheImages – to inform its AI learning model. Is it a problem? Nobody knows yet.
Frankly, it all comes down to How much a human changes the content.
The US Copyright Office raises the issue. His lawyer concludes with a call for disclosure. As Robert puts it with more than a hint of sarcasm: “I’m sure everyone will comply with that…right?”
But Robert doesn’t blame the copyright office given the difficulty, if not impossibility, of determining when something becomes man-made or AI-made.
Like grains in a pile of sand in the heap paradox, when does deleting or modifying content change the pile of content from AI created to human created?
Choose what content to own
If your content marketing team happily and proudly posts blog posts, longer content articles, ad copy, or 100% AI-generated images. In a weird way, the more amazing the AI-generated content, the riskier it becomes.
Robert emphatically explains why: “You. Don’t. Possess. He.”
Instead, take a more efficient approach to generative AI tools and use them for content that you don’t care if it’s “stolen” or exists without copyright protection. It was never yours. Robert says to let these AI tools create those summaries, sales emails, short blog posts, FAQs, etc. And let your humans focus on creating content you want to keep (and own) just for your brand.
And then it won’t matter when a stack of content goes from AI-generated to human-created, because you’ll have two separate stacks for each origin.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute