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Copyright law in the age of AI
Feb 1, 2024
Episode 1089

Copyright law in the age of AI

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Plus, RIP Ingenuity, the first Mars helicopter.

The New York Times is suing OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming the companies’ artificial intelligence systems were illegally trained on copyrighted articles from the news outlet. But can our current intellectual property laws stand up to rapidly developing AI technology? We’ll get into it. And, we’ll hear what Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell wants to see more of before cutting interest rates. Plus, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the first time she smoked pot in college.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us tomorrow for Economics on Tap! The YouTube livestream starts at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern. We’ll have news, drinks, a game and more.

Make Me Smart February 1, 2024 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal 

I am ready to go when you are.

Kimberly Adams

Let’s do it.

Kai Ryssdal

Alright.

Kimberly Adams 

Hey, everybody. I’m Kimberly Adams. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

Kai Ryssdal 

I almost brain farted on my name. Sorry. I’m Kai Ryssdal. Thanks for joining us on this Thursday, February 1. The reason I did a double take was because I looked at the date and I’m like, oh my god, it’s February already.

Kimberly Adams 

It is. Isn’t that wild?

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s ridiculous.

Kimberly Adams 

It is. But it is February and today. And it’s also a Thursday, so today, we are going to look back at some of the big stories of the week with audio clips that we have lined up. So, let’s get to our first one.

Satya Nadalla

“One of the things that is very going to be very, very important is both: What is the copyright protection, as well as what is fair use in a world where there is transformative new technology.”

Kai Ryssdal 

This one, you or me? You taking it? Alright.

Kimberly Adams 

Sure, I’ll do it.

Kai Ryssdal 

We should probably figure that out beforehand. Sorry.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, we should. It’s whatever. That was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadalla in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt talking about The New York Times lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft. Other writers and organizations including Getty Images are also suing a lot of these AI companies claiming that their copyrighted works were illegally used to train their AI systems like ChatGPT, Midjourney, and a bunch of the other ones. AI companies, on the other hand, say that these systems should be allowed to read whatever they want that’s in public on the internet, just like people do. Now this week, our colleague Matt Levin was reporting on the suit and the ethics of using internet data without the consent of those who publish their work online. And, you know, it’s an interesting debate that the courts, and I hesitate to say Congress, but in theory, lawmakers will end up having to decide because as Satya Nadalla was saying in that interview, the old copyright rules just don’t work anymore because it’s a transformative technology. And so, when you have a transformative technology, what is considered fair use? What is considered in the public domain? What’s considered, you know, different? And, you know, as a journalist, one of the first things you learn is that if it happens out in public, it’s fair game, you can report on it. If you’re standing on a sidewalk, a public street, you can see it, you can take the pictures, you can do whatever. And, you know, as long as somebody doesn’t have, like, a reasonable expectation of privacy is something we learn about all the time. But, you know, do you ever have a reasonable expectation of privacy on the internet? Right?

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, right? We’re talking about copyrighted works, other people’s intellectual property, right? I mean, so when this.

Kimberly Adams 

I suppose I’m mixing it all together. Yeah. Well, it’s like everything on the internet.

Kai Ryssdal 

Which is, it totally makes sense, right? Because it’s just a whole new world out there. But you know, so when The New York Times lawsuit was filed, I emailed Matt Levin, who’s been covering AI for us a lot. And I said, “Hey, do you know whether Marketplace content has been used to train these LOMs? These large language models, like the New York Times content has, and he said, “I don’t know, I’ll check.” And he got back to me like a week or two ago and said, “You know what, a little slice of Marketplace content was.” So, it’s really interesting that the work you and I are doing is training these LOMs.

Kimberly Adams 

Well, and you have to imagine our voices are being fed into these, you know, AI generation stuff, because there’s a lot of content of our voice just hanging out on the internet. And so, these sort of artificially generated voices for answering machines, for narration that you can buy now, probably has a little slice of us in it, and we’re never going to get the money from it. Because how do we prove it? How do we prove it?

Kai Ryssdal 

I don’t know. Alright, anyway, next piece of audio.

Jay Powell

“We’re looking for greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably down to 2%. Implicitly, we do have confidence and has been increasing, but we want to get greater conference. What do we want to see? We want to see more good data. It’s not that we’re looking for better data. We’re looking at continuation of the good data that we’ve been seeing.”

Kai Ryssdal 

So that was in real life, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Jay Powell yesterday’s press conference responding to a question from Jeanna Smialek at The New York Times. Jeanna had basically said, “What more do you need to see, Chair Powell, to decide it’s okay to cut rates?” And Powell’s answer is, as you heard, was more. And there’s that. I think there’s a little frustration out there that the Fed is like “yes, we know inflation is coming down. It’s really close to 2%. But we need to see more before we decide everything’s okay.” They’re not going to raise rates in the March meeting, maybe after that. Sorry, cut rates in the March meeting, but you know, who knows? Who knows what it’s going to do?

Kimberly Adams 

I wonder how, you know, we’ve done all these stories about people getting used to the higher prices and getting used to inflation. And that’s what’s helping consumer confidence improve. I wonder if there’s an effort to sort of let that settle in even more, before making any changes? That’s all speculation. All right. What do we have next? Let’s go to the next clip.

Tiffany Morgan

“I mean, there’s just some really exciting places that we would like to see on Mars that that I could see us using future helicopters for, and there’ll be more capable than Ingenuity because Ingenuity is has helped us learn so much about what can be accomplished.”

Kai Ryssdal

This was very sad.

Kimberly Adams 

I know. It was. Okay. So, RIP the Mars helicopter, Ingenuity. That was Tiffany Morgan, Deputy Director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, speaking on a NASA livestream about Ingenuity, which on its most recent flight, suffered some damage to its rotors and NASA announced it will not be able to fly again. But let’s talk about what Ingenuity meant to us and celebrate the good times of Ingenuity’s life. It was the first helicopter, as far as we know, to fly on another planet. During its mission, it helped out the Perseverance Rover by scouting the Mars terrain and helping it navigate. And also, it was just freaking cool. Like when that thing launched. And, you know, it did a lot and it lasted longer than people thought I think, you know, so go Ingenuity. Maybe one day we’ll get to Mars and recover you and bronze you or something like that. I don’t know.

Kai Ryssdal 

It was super cool. Super, super cool. All right. Last one for today, you will hear the Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, from Wait Wait this past weekend talking about how, this is true, to quote Peter Sagal, this is true. How she prepared to smoke marijuana for the first time when she was in college.

Janet Yellen

“I always tried to prepare when I can. And I said, how can I prepare for this experience? Well, why don’t I buy a pack of cigarettes and try to smoke them and see if I can inhale because I was told you can’t really enjoy marijuana unless you inhale. So, I bought a pack of cigarettes. I started smoking them. Horrible. It was a horrible experience. I couldn’t inhale. I was coughing. I thought well, I’m not prepared. I have to work harder at this.”

Kai Ryssdal 

And she wound up actually a smoker, although she did quit. If you haven’t heard it, listen to the whole thing. It was absolutely charming. She talks about Candy Crush and plays the game with Peter and the gang. Super, super fun episode. Highly recommend.

Kimberly Adams 

I haven’t listened to that show in years. I’ll have to go back and listen to that one.

Kai Ryssdal 

That little part of it was super fun. Super, super funny. It was great. It was really great. We are done for today. On that note, how do you top the Treasury Secretary talking about marijuana? Anyway, Economics on Tap tomorrow. The YouTube live stream starts at 3:30 Pacific, 6:30 back East.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes. And also, we’re working on this fun new project with your state cocktail ideas. I don’t know if you remember back when we were talking about the Brandy Old Fashioned and all these other things. But it got us thinking about state cocktails, and so we need your help. We are having a little cocktail contest, and we want you to vote for your favorite one. So, to do that, sign up for our newsletter by tonight so you can get a link to get to our poll to vote. And you can go to marketplace.org/newsletters to do that and happy voting.

Kai Ryssdal 

Make Me Smart, which is the podcast you’re listening to, is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Drew, Drew. God, I’m screwing up everybody’s name today. Drew Jostad ran the board today. Ellen Rolfes writes our newsletter. Thalia Menchaca is our intern.

Kimberly Adams 

Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts, and Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital.

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