Plus: Can AI own copyright to its inventions?

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Hi this is ZipLaw! The newsletter serving all the juicy news and memes to get you through the week.

Here’s what we’re serving today:

  • BRIC by BRIC 🧱
  • Can AI own copyright to its inventions? 🤖
  • Home prices get cut 🏠️

Bric by Bric 🧱

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are meeting in Johannesburg this week.

They're trying to boost their global impact.

With talks of adding new members like Indonesia and Saudi Arabia and moving away from the US dollar, they're practically attempting to give the "cool kids" of the world economy a wedgie.

But wait, they're not all besties. India's playing hard to get, wanting a gradual expansion, and the economic performance of Brazil, Russia, and South Africa is like a rollercoaster that only goes down.

We sent Zip to find out what they all want. Here’s what he uncovered:

  • 🇧🇷 Brazil wants: BRICS expansion, own currency, to be involved in any Russia-Ukraine diplomacy
  • 🇷🇺 Russia wants: BRICS to showcase Russia's enduring ties with Global South amid grip of sanctions over invasion of Ukraine, arrest warrant that prevents his in-person attendance
  • 🇮🇳 India wants: To project India as leading voice of the developing world, focus on third-world debt and climate change.
  • 🇨🇳 China wants: To use BRICS mainly as a counterweight to the Group of Seven, build alliances in trade wars with US.
  • 🇿🇦 South Africa wants: To position South Africa as major global player that can play all sides.

Bigger BRICS, Bigger Challenge

If the BRICS expansion succeeds, they could represent half of the global output by 2040. That's like going from benchwarmer to star player in the game of economics.

But don't pop the champagne just yet. There's a history of division among these countries, like a band that can't decide on their next hit song. And past efforts like the BRICS development bank? More of a one-hit-wonder.

Credit: Bloomberg

BRICS vs. The World

So, what does all this mean for the rest of the globe?

The European Union sees BRICS as just a talk shop, but Putin's use of the group as an international platform has them raising an eyebrow. The dream team of China and India? They rarely agree on anything.

In the end, the BRICS countries are trying to rally together, expand, and throw some weight around in the international arena. Will they succeed or will they be like a group project where everyone talks big but fails to deliver? Only time will tell.

⚖️ How does this impact Law Firms?

International Trade and Finance:

  • Currency and Trade Agreements: Lawyers specialised in international trade will likely be involved in drafting and negotiating new currency agreements and trade deals, especially given the BRICS countries' push to shift away from the US dollar. They would work to ensure that the agreements align with international trade laws and the interests of their clients.
  • Sanctions Compliance: With geopolitical tensions and the complexities around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, law firms would need to navigate the complex web of sanctions. This would involve advising clients on compliance with existing and potential new international sanctions, as well as devising strategies to mitigate risks.

Public International Law and Diplomacy:

  • International Dispute Resolution: With the potential challenge to the status quo by the BRICS nations, disputes might arise between states. Lawyers would be involved in representing countries in international forums such as the International Court of Justice, and in negotiations between governments.
  • Advising on International Law Compliance: As BRICS attempts to bolster its global heft, lawyers would be required to advise countries on their obligations and rights under international law, ensuring that the policies and actions of these emerging powers are in line with international treaties and agreements.

Corporate and M&A:

  • Cross-Border Transactions: With the increased focus on local currencies and potential new members in the BRICS bloc, corporate lawyers would be engaged in facilitating cross-border investments and mergers. They would provide legal assistance in structuring deals, ensuring compliance with local regulations, and managing potential risks.
  • Regulatory Compliance for Expansion: As countries like Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Algeria, and Egypt are considered potential candidates for joining BRICS, lawyers would work with corporations in these countries to ensure they comply with the changing regulatory landscape. This may include navigating new trade agreements, tariffs, and other regulatory measures that impact corporate operations.

Trend and Bigger Picture:

This story signifies a potential shift in the global economic order with emerging market powers like BRICS challenging the existing structure. Law firms would interpret this as an indication of a more multi-polar world, with new alliances and economic policies being formed.

Law firms would need to be agile and adapt to the changing global landscape by expanding their expertise in these areas and fostering relationships with governments and corporations within the BRICS nations and potential new members.

So, your AI has crafted a masterpiece, and you're wondering if you can slap a copyright on it?

Well, that's a big ol' no, according to US Judge Beryl A. Howell.

In short: an AI whiz, Stephen Thaler, wanted to copyright his AI-generated artwork and ended up getting rejected by the US Copyright Office.

Not once. Not twice. Multiple times!

Here’s all you need to know.

How did this start?

The whole copyright shebang started with Thaler's attempt to secure rights for an image, birthed by his Creativity Machine.

But the court said, "Hey, where's the human touch?" Judge Howell was firm; human authorship is like the bread in a copyright sandwich – you can't make it without.

The decision cited several precedents establishing need for human creativity and choices — an important distinction as the line between AI and personal creation becomes increasingly blurred.

Can you guess which one of these is a real photo and which is AI-generated? Scroll to the bottom of this email to find out.

Time to appeal

Thaler’s not done; he's planning to appeal.

Meanwhile, AI law suits are piling up…

  • Sarah Silverman and two other authors filed suit against OpenAI and Meta earlier this year over their models’ data scraping practices,,
  • programmer and lawyer Matthew Butterick alleges that data scraping by Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI amounted to software piracy.
  • Getty images sued Stability AI for allegedly breaching its copyright by using its images to "train" its Stable Diffusion system

⚖️ How does this impact Law Firms?

Intellectual Property (IP):

  • Copyright Consultation and Registration: Lawyers specialising in IP and copyright will be in high demand to consult artists, tech companies, and other creators utilising AI to understand the new legal landscape. They will guide clients through the process of copyright registration, evaluating the human contribution to ascertain if the work qualifies for protection under current legislation.
  • Dispute Resolution and Litigation: For those caught in the whirlwind of copyright disputes, like Stephen Thaler, lawyers in this field will represent clients in litigation, mounting or defending against infringement claims related to AI-generated works. Their expertise will help navigate the blurred line between human and machine authorship.

Technology and Data Protection:

  • Compliance with Data Scraping and AI Training: Technology lawyers will provide guidance to tech companies on lawful data scraping practices and AI training, ensuring adherence to privacy laws and regulations. This could involve scrutinising data sources and methods, forming compliance policies, and advising on international laws if applicable.
  • Defence Against Data scraping Allegations: Should companies face allegations akin to those against Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI, lawyers will defend clients in legal proceedings. They'll argue the validity of their data scraping methods, and if needed, negotiate settlements or facilitate alternative resolutions.

Media and Entertainment:

  • Licensing and Commercialisation of AI-Generated Content: Lawyers in this field will negotiate and draft agreements for the licensing and distribution of AI-generated content. This includes advising on the commercial exploitation of such works and structuring deals that reflect the nuances of non-human authorship.
  • Pre-publication Content Review: Media lawyers may be involved in pre-publication reviews of AI-generated content, working closely with publishers and artists to assess potential legal risks like defamation, copyright infringement, or other liabilities. This includes evaluating the human involvement to understand how copyright laws apply to specific works.

Chart of the day 📊

UK Property Sellers Cut Asking Prices

The UK housing market's roller coaster just took a thrilling dip! Think of it as a Black Friday sale, but for houses.

Rightmove says home prices dropped 1.9% this month.

Why? Interest Rates! They've been surging, and they're really weighing on everyone's mood, making those once-juicy properties feel like leftover scraps. Meanwhile, mortgage pain's persisting like a bad hangover.

Plus when you look at the affordability levels in the chart above it’s easy to see why there’s not much demand.

The costs of buying houses are simply too far out of reach and potential buyers are shifted back into the rental market. Result? Rental prices sky rocket.

Big expensive houses are the ones suffering the most. Their prices plunged 3.4%! First-time buyer cribs? A smaller tumble, like tripping over a garden gnome.


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