How AI and copyright would work

How AI and copyright would work

Even if an output has the form and feel of a copyrightable work — for example a script written by a program called “Benjamin” and filmed as Sunspring — it may still fail to qualify if we require for expression. In other words, under our copyright rules as they currently exist, to qualify as protectable by copyright, a work — an original creation — needs to meet the definition spelled out in Section 102(a) of the Copyright Act (U.S. Can AI-generated works be reasonably construed as original expression, even though there’s no person behind the work doing the expressing? The core question about AI-generated works is: Can AI-generated works be reasonably construed as original expression, even though there’s no person behind the work doing the expressing? The terms of the statute also include the word “communicated,” implying that something has gone from the mind of one person (the creator) to another (the audience, the reader, etc.). It would be a stretch to bring in the information theory criteria for communication, i.e. “communication” occurs any time photons or electrons are caused to move from here to there. It’s easy — and tempting! — to get wrapped around the axle when it comes to the prospects for artificial intelligence (AI) programs and their creation of original works. Would it be better for society — would it help achieve the purposes of copyright — if protections were extended to AI-generated works? As it says in the Constitution, the purposes of copyright may be thought of as a quid pro quo — in order “to promote the progress of science” certain rights are “secured” to authors [and other creators]. If achieving a “balance of claims” is the core purpose of copyright, the extension of copyright protection to works generated by AI can be measured against that purpose. On the one hand, this extension would likely increase the number of works available for public enjoyment, edification and other worthy social purposes. On the other hand, copyright protection for these new works — even at the stage we are now — might increase the profit of one or more private corporations who controlled them and were thereby able to exploit them commercially, in ads or as part of feature films, games and so forth. Bottom line: In my view, a self-aware, autonomous AI would be the prerequisite for its works to be protectable by copyright. At that time, such a revolution in technology would entail a much greater revolution in society, with the law, including copyright law, changing, as well. If there is any human interference or guidance, like a person setting parameters for how a program operates, then that person may be entitled to a copyright if the person’s contribution rises to the level of copyright protection. When it comes to the rights of an AI itself, I think the key issue would be intent.

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