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As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more sophisticated, it’s becoming increasingly common for AI algorithms to create content, including music, videos, and articles. However, the question of who owns this content and who has the right to use it is a complex issue that is still being debated by legal experts and technology companies alike.
The basic principle of copyright is that the person who creates the content owns the copyright. However, in the case of AI-generated content, it’s not always clear who the creator is. With the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in creating content such as music, images, and articles, the question of who owns the copyright for AI-generated works is becoming more pressing. The answer to this question is complex and depends on various factors, including the legal jurisdiction where the content was created.
So, who owns AI-generated content? Here are some factors to consider:
- Who created the AI algorithm? If the AI algorithm was created by an individual or a company, they may be considered the creator of any content generated by the algorithm.
- How much input did humans have? If humans played a significant role in the creation of the content (for example, by providing input or training data), they may have a claim to ownership.
- The purpose of the content: If the AI-generated content was created for a specific purpose (such as advertising or marketing), the owner of the copyright may be the person or company who commissioned the content.
Challenges to the Grant of copyright ownership to AI
It is not as easy as it seems to grant an AI authorship rights in an AI-generated work, and doing so could have major repercussions. In situations where it is granted authorship rights in an AI-generated work and there is copyright infringement of that work or that work infringes on the already existing copyrighted work, the AI cannot protect its copyrighted work from potential infringement and cannot be sued for potentially infringing an already existing copyrighted work. This is because AI cannot be sued because it is neither a natural person nor a legal entity. As a result, the law must determine AI’s legal status before addressing the issue of granting AI writing rights. It’s crucial to remember that different countries may have different laws governing who owns content produced by AI.
The Legal Position on Copyright Protection for AI-Generated Content
The legal status of copyright protection for AI-generated content differs by country. The copyright law in the United States is clear that only works created by humans are covered by copyright protection. This means that regardless of their originality or inventiveness, AI-generated works are not protected by copyright under US law.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, the US Copyright Office has indicated that a work created using an AI program may be copyrightable if there is some degree of human involvement in the creative process. This may include selecting the data used to train the AI program, deciding the parameters of the program, or making decisions about the output of the program.
The Intellectual Property Office in the United Kingdom adopted a different view. They have indicated that if a human author is involved in the creative process, copyright protection can be extended to AI-generated works. This means that if a person supplies input or training data to an AI system, they may have a claim to the AI’s generated content. The safeguards afforded to computer-generated works created solely by a human author, or partly by a human author and partly by AI. Furthermore, the UK is one of only a few countries that provides copyright protection to creative works purely generated by AI.
In India, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report No. 161 titled “Review of the Intellectual Property Rights Regime in India” suggested revising the Copyright Act of 1957 in order to broaden the scope of authorship in AI-generated works. According to the report, AI is capable of creating original content, so the copyright law needs to be updated to address ownership of AI-generated works.
The report acknowledged the possibility of using AI to produce unique and creative works that might be covered by copyright. However, copyright protection is only applicable to works created by human authors under the existing Copyright Act. The report proposed that the Act be revised to recognise AI as a recognised creator of works, providing that the work is original and that the AI system used to create the work is more than just a tool employed by a human author.
The Need for a Common Yardstick for Determination of Ownership of AI-Generated Content
Given the differences in the legal positions on copyright protection for AI-generated content across various jurisdictions, there is a need for a common yardstick to determine ownership of such works. This is because AI-generated content is not limited by geographical boundaries and can be accessed and used globally. Therefore, a lack of consensus on ownership could lead to legal disputes and stifle innovation in the field of AI.
A common yardstick could be developed through an international collaboration between legal experts and policymakers. This could involve the creation of an international treaty or agreement that outlines the conditions for determining ownership of AI-generated content. Such an agreement would ensure that AI-generated content is protected under copyright law while also providing clarity on the ownership of such works.
The legal landscape for AI-generated content copyright protection varies between jurisdictions. The US does not recognise copyright protection for this type of information, although the UK and India do. With the increasing use of AI in content creation, a standard method for determining ownership of such works is necessary. In order to guarantee that AI-generated content is protected under copyright law and to provide clarity on ownership, building such a yardstick requires international cooperation between legal experts and legislators. Global agreement on copyright protection for content produced by AI will promote innovation and creativity in the field of AI. This would give authors, users, and owners of AI-generated work clarity and consistency while also ensuring that copyright law remains applicable and effective in the face of fast-expanding technology.
This article is authored by Rohan Hebbal, penultimate year law student at Institute of Law Nirma University, Ahmedabad
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