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In this contemporary world, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the most essential parts of technological administration. AI has entered our lives through education, health, aviation, transportation, music, films, etc. and has made tremendous advancements. The growth of AI is now being recognized worldwide. Recently, an AI lab in the US disclosed a new type of system called GPT-3, which has the ability to write poems, summarize emails, read tweets, translate languages, and can also write its own computer programs. With AI technologies expanding, it is also creating serious challenges in the sector of copyright law. This article discusses the ambit of copyright law in AI, as well as the challenges that it poses.


Copyright is a legal term that describes the rights that the creators have over their literary and artistic works. The domain of the creations includes websites, books, music, painting, literature, films, computer programs, advertisements, graphic designs etc. Copyright is a safeguard that prevents an original work from being duplicated. In simple words, copyright means the right to copy. It means the exclusive right to reproduce the work sits with the original creators and anyone they give authorization to. Copyright rights are infringed when someone uses the original owner’s copyrighted work without the owner’s authorization or permission. Thus, by doing this the person infringes certain rights of the copyright owner, such as the right to reproduce, display, distribute, or perform the protected work. In India, such copyrighted works are administered under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957.


Earlier, when artworks were generated from the computer, programmers used to come up with input to produce their work. This did not create much confusion in regards to who the owner of the copyrighted work was. But now that the world is deviating toward stronger AI technologies where it is capable of generating its own work and coming up with its decisions independently, the question of authorship arises. In recent years AI has also produced music where there was very little or no human interference at all. When there is human intervention in a computer-generated work, the ownership usually goes to the one who created the input. In a case where AI has generated all its work without human interference, copyright protection can be granted. But “to whom” the copyright should vest remains a puzzling question that needs to be answered.

Who can be the author of such works?

The first legislation which spoke about the ambit of AI in copyright is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, Section 9(3) of the CDPA states that “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”. However, the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 did not define “computer-created work” as done in the CDPA.

In the case of Camlin Pvt. Ltd. V. National Pencil Industries, the High Court of Delhi held that printed cartons which are produced mechanically cannot be significant in matters of copyright because the question regarding who the author of that carton would be difficult to determine. The High Court further elaborated that copyright can only be given to authors or from those natural persons through whom the work has been derived. Therefore, the machine cannot be said to be an author or have any copyright for the art created.

Recently, India has granted an AI as co-author of a copyrighted work. RAGHAV, an artificial intelligence painting app, is the first AI to be recognized as a co-author for a copyrighted work. According to section 2(d)(vi) of the copyright act, 1957, in a case where an artistic work is computer-generated, the person who causes the work to be created shall be the author of that work. In the present case, Mr. Ankit Sahni is the author of the created work, as he is the person responsible for the creation of the artistic work.

But this is not the case globally. In the case of Acohs Pty Ltd v. Ucorp Pty Ltd, the Australian Federal Court refused to grant copyright protection to a computer-generated work, noting that human beings did not create it. China, on the other hand, has taken a different approach. In the case of Shenzhen Tencent v Shanghai Yingxun, the creator of the AI tool was granted copyright protection for the artistic or literary work it created.


One of the suggestions regarding this issue could be that no authorship can be allowed for AI-produced work and this can be categorized into “public domain” or there should be sui generis law present. But categorizing AI-produced work in the public domain can also be discouraging as companies and programmers would be demoralized to invest in the AI sector. Implying this method could have a negative effect on the creative side of the economy. Another suggestion for AI-generated work would be to attribute authorship to the creator of the program of such works, such as in India. But with the latest development in the AI sector, a computer program does not seems to be a mere tool; it is responsible for many creation processes without any human intervention.


The functions of AI are increasing in almost all sectors of our day-to-day activities. Coming to the situation of intellectual property rights, especially in the area of copyright law, AI is going to play a major part. The matter regarding the ownership and authorship of AI-produced work still remains an international issue that is gaining attention. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is also trying to solve these issues. With regards to AI-generated work without human intervention, it is a little early to draw conclusions, but it is important to keep track of the progression of technology. The copyright office recognizing humans as authors behind the creation of work sound more favourable, while AI can also be given credit as seen in the case where RAGHAV(an AI tool).

Author(s) Name: Ekta Chatterjee (Ramaiah College of Law, Bangalore)