Who owns Copyright protection when it comes to work produced by Artificial Intelligence?

In a world where technology shows rapid evolvement, it can sometimes be difficult to establish a clear line as to who should be granted copyright ownership over a produced work. This is mainly due to the establishment of Artificial Intelligence (AI), an intelligence demonstrated by the work of computed machinery. In a traditional sense, a dispute never arose as to copyright ownership in a computer-generated work, as the system was simply regraded as a helping tool in the process. Therefore, the work could easily qualify for protection, if original. It must be noted that most definitions of originality require a human author. However, with the current digital AI systems in place, the computer program is not just a tool, as in some cases it can produce the work with little to no human intervention.

So, how does the law deal with this matter? Two options arise in this instance, firstly the copyright protection can be completely denied or secondly it could grant authorship to the creator of the AI program. The second option, and perhaps the more favoured one, consists of delegating partial authorship to the programmer, as evident in the UK. Section 9(3) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act year (CDPA) insists that the author shall be the one whom undertook the arrangements required for the proposed creation. Granting this appears a sensible option, as the approach will ensure that companies proceed to invest in technology, with guarantee to receive return on their investment.

However, there is still the presence of ambiguity. Should the person who made use of the AI system be granted any ownership over the potential copyright protection? A good example to demonstrate this is the program of Microsoft Word. So yes, Microsoft have developed the program however they cannot claim authorship over the work produced on the software. This would entitle the user of the program to authorship and legal protection.

Nevertheless, the above does not apply to every aspect of AI. The case of Nova Productions v Mazooma Games [2007] EWCA Civ 219 concerned a dispute over authorship in a computer game and held that the player’s input didn’t contribute skill, labour or effort into the making of the work, therefore no copyright ownership can be granted.

The difference in outcome demonstrated in the latter two examples suggests that there won’t be one singular law to determine AI copyright ownership. Instead it would appear more suitable and coherent to take the matter one case at a time, with appreciation to unique circumstances. This is a topic which is likely to continue becoming more complex in the upcoming future, due to the accelerated development and demand for AI.

If you have any queries regarding the above or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Lawdit team today.

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