Consent and Compensation: Resolving Generative AI’s Copyright Crisis

51 Pages Posted: 14 May 2024

See all articles by Frank Pasquale

Frank Pasquale

Cornell Law School; Cornell Tech

Haochen Sun

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2024


Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to augment and democratize creativity. However, it is undermining the knowledge ecosystem that now sustains it. Generative AI may unfairly compete with creatives, displacing them in the market. Most AI firms are not compensating creative workers for composing the songs, drawing the images, and writing both the fiction and non-fiction books that their models need in order to function. AI thus threatens not only to undermine the livelihoods of authors, artists, and other creatives, but also to destabilize the very knowledge ecosystem it relies on.

Alarmed by these developments, many copyright owners have objected to the use of their works by AI providers. To recognize and empower their demands to stop non-consensual use of their works, we propose a streamlined opt-out mechanism that would require AI providers to remove objectors’ works from their databases once copyright infringement has been documented. Those who do not object still deserve compensation for the use of their work by AI providers. We thus also propose a levy on AI providers, to be distributed to the copyright owners whose work they use without a license. This scheme is designed to ensure creatives receive a fair share of the economic bounty arising out of their contributions to AI. Together these mechanisms of consent and compensation would result in a new grand bargain between copyright owners and AI firms, designed to ensure both thrive in the long-term.

Keywords: generative AI, copyright, consent, compensation, fair use, levy, compulsory license, license, infringement, adaptation, derivative work, political economy, law and technology, performing rights society, AHRA, DMCA, remuneration, unjust enrichment

JEL Classification: O3, O30, O31, O34

Suggested Citation

Pasquale, Frank A. and Sun, Haochen, Consent and Compensation: Resolving Generative AI’s Copyright Crisis (May 1, 2024). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Frank A. Pasquale (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853

Cornell Tech ( email )

2 West Loop Rd.
New York, NY 10044
United States

Haochen Sun

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong


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