The Sleepy Copyright Office in the Middle of a High-Stakes Clash Over A.I.

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For decades, the Copyright Office has been a small and sleepy office within the Library of Congress. Each year, the agency’s 450 employees register roughly half a million copyrights, the ownership rights for creative works, based on a two-centuries-old law.

In recent months, however, the office has suddenly found itself in the spotlight. Lobbyists for Microsoft, Google, and the music and news industries have asked to meet with Shira Perlmutter, the register of copyrights, and her staff. Thousands of artists, musicians and tech executives have written to the agency, and hundreds have asked to speak at listening sessions hosted by the office.

The attention stems from a first-of-its-kind review of copyright law that the Copyright Office is conducting in the age of artificial intelligence. The technology — which feeds off creative content — has upended traditional norms around copyright, which gives owners of books, movies and music the exclusive ability to distribute and copy their works.

The agency plans to put out three reports this year revealing its position on copyright law in relation to A.I. The reports are set to be hugely consequential, weighing heavily in courts as well as with lawmakers and regulators.

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The Sleepy Copyright Office in the Middle of a High-Stakes Clash Over A.I.

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