The Japanese government has introduced some of the first AI regulations to protect artists from generative technology, albeit only mildly.
Japan AI regulation was introduced by the country’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. The agency, a part of Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, introduced a number of restrictions on AI technology in the country.
First and foremost, the new guidelines moved to protect the intellectual property of artists and companies in the region. However, there is some leeway for AI companies to continue using copyrighted works for the training of more advanced AI tools.
For example, copyrighted content such as books, art, movies and more can still be scraped and fed into AI products. Tools such as Midjourney and ChatGPT use this as the basis of training generative tools, and now that these services are in the wild, they may be impossible to stop.
However, while these tools can still be trained, their uses are going to be restricted in a business sense. As such, Japan AI regulation deems that copyrighted content cannot be generated via these tools and sold in any capacity.
The new regulations state that “AI may be used for educational, research and non-commercial purposes”. However, if there is an “economic benefit or commercial purpose” the AI creation may be deemed a violation of copyright.
Japan’s new regulations are mostly focused on AI art. With tools like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion able to copy an artist’s style with enough scraped material, the Japanese government aims to stop AI users from making money by stealing others’ techniques.
Those who use AI to copy artists’ works for commercial purposes will be legally punished. Not only will the original artist be able to claim damages, but the AI user may be subject to criminal penalties.
Since the spread of Midjourney and more artists have fought against AI tools scraping their work for artificial training. Online protests have aimed to ruin AI tools by providing incorrect prompts and other ways to confuse the technology.
Japan is one of the first companies to add true regulation to generative art. While the United States has stopped AI art from being protected by copyright, Japan is the first country to penalise paid products using the technology.