OpenAI’s Sora—a creator’s dream, a marketer’s nightmare

A screen grab of a video created by OpenAI's new tool Sora of a half duck-half dragon with a hamster riding on it.
A screen grab of a video created by OpenAI's new tool Sora of a half duck-half dragon with a hamster riding on it.

Summary

While gaming entrepreneurs and filmmakers see the text-to-video GenAI model as a powerful tool to aid creators, they are also wary about the regulatory implications of using such technology for commercial purposes

MUMBAI , BENGALURU : Investors, gaming firms and filmmakers remain largely bullish on the prospect of OpenAI’s Sora, a text-to-video generative artificial intelligence model and tool. However, nearly a week since its introduction, legal experts believe commercial firms will remain wary of using AI video generator tools in official marketing campaigns in fear of infringing on copyrights and intellectual property protections.

On 15 February, OpenAI introduced Sora as an AI model that can “understand and simulate the physical world in motion, with the goal of training models that help people solve problems that require real-world interaction." 

Videos showcased looked akin to professional video productions—a creative field that employed over 2 million people and generated over $1.3 billion in ticketing revenue in India last year.

“Content creators without a unique style will see immense competition, and those with an inimitable style will see more viewers flock to them," said Siddarth Pai, co-founder at venture capital firm 3one4 Capital. “Short-form content creation costs will crash, and social video apps will see a deluge of generative AI videos soon."

Harsha Kumar, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, agreed, saying tools such as Sora “can potentially bring down the cost of creating short clips in the near term."

In gaming, the likes of Sora can potentially open up the market to more creators. Salone Sehgal, founding general partner at venture capital firm Lumikai Fund, said that the advent of AI tools such as Sora is creating a new economy—“one that is transforming from video on demand, to content on command."

“Large game designing firms that have technical depth and legacy workflows will struggle to meaningfully integrate AI into existing titles and franchises. However, the advent of AI can lead to the creation of smaller, independent AI-first gaming studios, where AI can help in certain vital areas of development such as screenwriting, concept art and asset creation," Sehgal said.

To be sure, Sora is not the first of its kind, and faces competition from the likes of Runway, Synthesia, and DeepBrain. However, the Microsoft-backed OpenAI can potentially open the technology up to wider enterprise adoption—as was seen with its democratization of generative AI with ChatGPT.

Sudhir Kamath, chief operating officer at game distribution, events and publication firm Nazara Technologies, said the benefits would go beyond cost. 

“AI tools such as Sora can help our designers create visuals much faster than before. For studios, the cost of game development is directly linked to manpower, which is a fixed cost since you would still need a skilled workforce to make use of such tools… But what will improve is the ability to experiment quickly, which will improve productivity and creativity," Kamath said.

Nazara, Kamath affirmed, already allows its designers and developers to use AI tools such as Google’s image-generating Imagen for creative templates to build artwork upon.

Deepika Ramani, partner–consumer, internet, media and entertainment at talent advisory ABC Consultants, said gaming will see a bigger impact from AI tools than film production, “since gaming has always been an animation and visual effects-heavy sector."

In films, industry experts believe Sora could function as a co-pilot for screenwriters, video editors and cinematographers. Chaitanya Chinchlikar, vice-president and chief technology officer at Mumbai-based Whistling Woods International film school, said creative professionals should not be threatened by AI in terms of their employability. 

“A fundamental thing to understand is that AI does not have its own imagination. At the level of every pixel that AI creates, it will be a synthesis of content that an algorithm has already seen, or is trained upon. This will make AI an assisting tool at best for the visual creation industry, from which some segments of the industry might benefit. But this will certainly not take away jobs from creative professionals," he said.

What Sehgal, Kamath and Chinchlikar do agree upon, however, are regulatory concerns on the use of AI in creative fields. 

“Regulations definitely pose key questions around the use of AI, and how copyrights will evolve and continue to be affected. While this does not directly affect the investability of a business, and investors account for headroom for regulatory conflicts in portfolio firms, the use of AI in visual design will definitely be debated," Sehgal said.

“The root of an intellectual property is that it was created with skill, creativity, effort and money, and took time to create. [But] here is a technology where an individual can use that original effort, feeding into a software and tweaking it with text, and generating a version of it automatically," said Shailendra Bhandare, partner at law firm Khaitan & Co.

“Concerns on this begin with whether content that has been fed to this AI algorithm was copyright-protected to begin with—such as what we’ve seen with The New York Times’ lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft. Outputs based on such inputs can lead to copyright infringement," Bhandare said. “Further, two companies using similar text prompts on a software built on the same set of data could also lead to conflicting intellectual property issues."

Even in the absence of AI-specific IP and copyright laws, companies may face legal challenges in cases of content-level conflict, Bhandare added. 

“Even under the present copyright law, substantial reproduction from the original work amounts to infringement. Whether that is created by AI, or another person, would not make a difference," he said. “Question is, if AI creates something completely new (derived from input data fed into the software) which does not amount to substantial reproduction, how does one deal with that?"

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