Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Copyright law

modification and a large-scale adjustment is practically impossible. However, since 1988, AI technology has advanced enormously. AI is no longer limited to making decisions and problem- solving; it is also capable of creating and generating its own work, including paintings, compositions, and music. For instance, an AI-generated portrait, Portrait of Edmond Belamy was auctioned and was sold for £337,000 in October 2018. 25 Christie’s specialist, Richard Lloyd commented that ‘ AI is just one of several technologies that will have an impact on the art market of the future ’ . 26 As a result, it is difficult to predict the impact that AI will have on our future. However the law stands today may not be able to encompass this unpredictable growth since intellectual property rights only protect ‘ creations of the human mind. ’ 27 This raises questions of whether AI-generated work is eligible for copyright protection and whether the software developer of the AI programme or AI itself owns the copyright of the work if it does meet the requirement of intellectual property rights. AI generates work by using multiple data sets, including paintings from the past, inserted by the machine’s desig ner. The eligibility for the copyright of the work may therefore be doubted since it may not meet the threshold of originality in copyright law. In order to be eligible, the work should be created independently and exhibit at least ‘ a modicum of creativity ’ . 28 However, instead of creating the work itself, AI uses technology and algorithms to analyse inputted data and recreates the work. Thus, the work may not be considered original and authentic. While AI-generated content might not meet the principle and basic requirement of originality, it still conforms to the original objective of copyright law which is ‘ for the encouragement of learning ’ , as stated in the Statute of Anne. Indeed, the way AI creates portraits and artwork might also be protected by the Berne Convention, because the work produced might be considered to be ‘ translation ’ and ‘ adaptation ’ of the original piece, both of which are legislated in Article 2(3). The protection of AI-generated work by copyright law has, unsurprisingly, caused controversy. Who counts as the author of the work produced by AI has also created a heated debate. Since artificial intelligence is the replication of human minds and is capable of processing thoughts and carrying out actions, some argue that AI should be afforded the protection of copyright. Under current UK copyright law, the protection period of computer-generated pieces which do not have an author is ’ 50 years from the date the work is made ’ . 29 It is, however, stated that computer-generated work must not have a human author, hence ‘ joint authorship ’ might not be applicable to the work co-created by human and 25 Kinsella, E. (2018) ‘ The First AI Generated Portrait Ever Sold at Auction Shatters Expectations, Fetching $432,500 – 43 Times Its Estimate’. Artnet News, 25 October. Available at: intelligence-portrait-painting-sells-at-christies-1379902 (Accessed: 12 March 2022). 26 Christie's (2018) 'Is artificial intelligence set to become art’s next medium?', 12 December, Available at: 1.aspx (Accessed: 12 March 2022). 27 World Intellectual Property Organisation (2016) Understanding Copyright and Related Rights, pp. 5. Available at: (Accessed: 12 March 2022). 28 University of Michigan Library Research Guide (2021). Copyright Basics . Available at: (Accessed: 12 March 2022). 29 GOV.UK (n.d.) Artificial intelligence call for views: copyright and related rights. Available at: views/artificial-intelligence-call-for-views-copyright-and-related- rights#:~:text=Unlike%20most%20other%20countries%2C%20the,s9(3)%20CDPA%20 (Accessed: 14 March 2022).


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