Copyright laws

Should lawmakers prepare humanity for such unchartered territories? In my opinion, there would be no proper solution for this one, and it would always stay ambiguous and confusing as to who is the owner. AI is being used to create works in Music, Gaming, and Journalism.


The first problem would arise as laws differ across borders.  In Germany, Spain, and USA, the copyright is only given to the work that is created by humans (Macaulay, 2018; Guadamuz, 2017). Guadamuz further adds, “the Copyright Office has declared that it will “register an original work of authorship, provided that the work was created by a human being.” This stance flows from case law (e.g., Feist Publications v Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc. 499 U.S. 340 (1991)) which specifies that copyright law only protects “the fruits of intellectual labor” that “are founded in the creative powers of the mind.”


Whereas, in the UK, there a provision in the Data Protection Act of 1998 that the person who made the arrangements for the computer-generated work, gets the copyright. The second problem is, there might be involved different people while making these arrangements. For instance, one person created the AI and then he makes another person set it up. The second person might make adjustments according to his will. So, this raises a tough question that in case of multiple people involved, who would be the author? For instance, if an input of one author, is used aby another to feed into the AI, then who would own the output? Here is an overlay of the rights.  Tom Lingard, a partner at law firm Stevens & Bolton, states that Microsoft owns the copyright to Microsoft Word, but doesn’t admit possessing the rights over the documents created by it (Macaulay, 2018).


In an Australian case of Acohs Pty Ltd v Ucorp Pty Ltd, the court concluded that computer generated work could not be protected by copyright because it was not created by a human. European court too on several occasions mainly in the Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagbaldes Forening case has stressed on the fact “copyright only applies to original works, and that originality must reflect the “author’s intellectual creation.” This refers to a human author, which is necessary for the copyright to endure (Guadamuz, 2017).


The other option of giving copyrights to the author who sets up the AI, this is evident in India, UK, New Zealand, Ireland and Hong Kong. UK copyright law, of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act states, “In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken (GOV.UK, 2003)”. According to Annemarie Bridy, a professor of law at the University of Idaho and an affiliate scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society says that in the abscnce of a framework that legally recognizes AI as aperson, “we’re a long way from that moment, if we’ll ever get there”. A likeable result would be to give copyright to the owners of the AI. (Hart, 2017)


The discussion leads to an ambiguous end, that who the court would consider to be the person responsible for setting up the environment for the work to be created. Will it be the developer of the program or the user? Is it almost like saying that should the maker of a pen have the copyright or the writer? And even if the decision is being made on who which person would get the copyright, the varying of law across borders would add the difficulty (Guadamuz, 2017).





GOV.UK (2003) Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/pdfs/ukpga_19880048_en.pdf (Accessed: 4 February 2018)


Guadamuz, A. (2017) Artificial intelligence and copyright. Available at: http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2017/05/article_0003.html (Accessed: 4 February 2018)


Hart, R. (2017) If an AI creates a work of art, who owns the rights to it? Available at: https://qz.com/1054039/google-deepdream-art-if-an-ai-creates-a-work-of-art-who-owns-the-rights-to-it/ (Accessed: 4 February 2018)


Macaulay, T. (2018) Legal issues around IP for AI: Who owns the copyright on content created by machines? Available at: https://www.techworld.com/data/ip-rights-for-ai-who-owns-copyright-on-content-created-by-machines-3671082/ (Accessed: 4 February 2018)




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