On May 30, 2023, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan (or ACA) and the Cabinet Office released a document titled “About the relationship between AI and copyright.” In it, the agency defined its views on the use of preexisting copyrighted works of art in the learning process of AI, and the commercial use of AI-generated art. [Thanks, PC Watch!]
In the document, the ACA distinguishes between two distinct phases regarding the generation of AI images and artwork. The first one is the AI learning and research process, with the second one being the direct generation of images and artwork using AI.
The ACA claims that using copyrighted works without permission is possible during the learning and research process for AI, since these works would be used for non-commercial purposes. Meanwhile, utilizing AI to generate images, as well as selling AI-generated images and art will be treated the same as ordinary copyright infringement in Japan.
This means that if the newly AI-generated image is deemed derivative or dependent on existing copyrighted work, the copyright holder can claim damages on the basis of copyright infringement, and the person responsible for generating the image can be subject to criminal charges.
The Agency for Cultural Affairs also stated that there are plans at the organization to raise awareness through seminars and other channels, as well as participate with intellectual property experts and lawyers to circulate information, and educate the public about the subject of AI.
On a related note, Japanese digital distribution website DLsite recently announced that it would temporarily cease the distribution of AI-generated manga and art products on its platform.