The rise of technology has resulted in new legal issues, including privacy violations and criminal offenses. The use of Artificial Intelligence in generating works such as literature, music and art has led to the need for clarification in copyright laws.
One recent example of the growing role of Artificial Intelligence in the creation of works is a novella titled “The Day a Computer Wrote a Novel.” This novella, generated by an AI program using automatic text generation, was nominated for a literary award in Japan. The author’s information was not provided to the judges during the initial rounds of screening. Google has also recently funded a news-generating AI program through its Digital News Initiative.
The Indian Copyright Act of 1957 (“the Act”) identifies the author of a computer-generated work as the individual responsible for its creation. Meanwhile, the UK’s Copyright, Designs, and Patent Act of 1988 outlines the author as the person who manages the making of the work.
When it comes to an AI-generated novella, the source material was composed of 1,000 stories and essays by Hoshi Shinichi. According to the Act, the author could be considered to include Hoshi Shinichi for providing the source material, Yurei Raita for inputting the material into the program, and the research team at the Sao Matsuzaki lab who developed the program.
The issue of AI-generated creativity remains a topic of debate as AI is being used as a tool but may not necessarily produce original content. The main goal of copyright laws is to protect originality and creativity.
This blog shall compare the laws in various jurisdictions related to the copyrights laws of computer-generated works.
In India, copyright law requires the expression of an idea to be in tangible form to be eligible for protection. Only a legally recognized person who creates the work is considered the author and entitled to economic and moral rights. The purpose of intellectual property laws is to incentivize original creation for profit and cultural value.
- The court ruled in the case of Andrien v. Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce that the author must be a person who conceives the expression and fixes it in tangible form.
- The Naruto v. David Slater raised questions about animal authorship but the court determined animals cannot be authors and the photographer was the closest human link to the picture and held the rights.
- In the case of TCS v. State of Andhra, software programs were ruled as a tangible expression of an idea and the intellectual property rights went to the closest human link.
Therefore, in the situation of “The Day a Computer Wrote a Novel,” the property rights in the work would belong to Yurei Raita, who had human intervention after the creation of the computer program by the laboratory.
The Berne Convention lacks a clear definition of “author.” According to Ricketson, it was widely understood that to be considered an author, a person must have created a literary or artistic work with a sufficient level of originality. This requires that the author be human and have made a significant intellectual contribution beyond mere effort. The Berne Convention and other international treaties, such as the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the TRIPS Agreement, do not explicitly define the term “author” and only recognize natural persons as authors.
Under EU law, AI authorship is still uncertain. EU copyright directives, excluding cinematographic, audio-visual works, computer programs, and databases, do not clarify if only humans can be considered authors. The CJEU has defined “originality” as the author’s intellectual creation and stated that copyright protection applies only to works that are original and the author’s own intellectual creation. This requires the author to add a personal touch and reflect their personality through original creative expression, making it impossible for AI to be considered an author and its works not considered original creative works.
In the USA, Naruto v. Slater (the Macaque selfie case), dealt with the question of non-human generated works and authorship. The District Court dismissed PETA’s claim to grant authorship to a monkey named Naruto, as copyright law primarily refers to a human involved in the creation of the work and requires that the work be produced by a human to be eligible for copyright protection. PETA appealed the decision but was eventually settled outside of court. The US Copyright Office Compendium confirms this position by stating that only works created by a human being are eligible for registration as copyrighted work, and protection is not available for works produced by a machine or automatic process without any human creative input.
According to the Act, various definitions of the term “author” are provided, while Section 17 specifies who should be the first owner of a copyrightable work. When it comes to computer-generated literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works, it is stated that the person responsible for the creation of the work is regarded as the author. However, there is a need to distinguish between computer-generated and computer-assisted works. Computer-generated works have minimal to no human involvement, while computer-assisted works involve a significant amount of human input and use technology as a means to the end. The issue of copyright protection for AI-generated works remains uncertain due to the ongoing debate around the extent of human involvement and the balance between creativity and originality, which are central goals of copyright laws.
The purpose of copyright legislation is to encourage originality and imagination by safeguarding the financial and ethical rights of those who produce original works. This helped stimulate economic growth by allowing the owner of a work to profit from it. However, with the advancement of technology, the laws of copyright have become unclear with regard to the granting of authorship to works created through artificial intelligence.
Under current copyright laws, authorship is granted to the closest human link involved in the production of works generated by non-human entities. This is in line with the principle of maximizing economic efficiency, one of the core principles behind the formation of copyright laws. However, this also raises questions regarding the moral rights of the original creator, as computer-generated works typically involve multiple individuals in the production process.
One potential solution to this challenge could be to separate economic and moral rights, where the person closest to the creation process would be given economic rights and the computer would be granted authorship through moral rights in the instance of computer-generated works.
Policymakers should continually evaluate and redefine the boundaries of copyright laws in light of technological advancements. The idea of granting personhood to artificial intelligence is not favoured due to the implications it would have on human rights and the legal system. The application of artificial intelligence to laws made for human society is a complex matter, and future developments are difficult to predict.
Author(s) Name: Jahnvi Shah (NMIMS University, Mumbai)
 ‘Press Association Wins Google Grant to Run News Service Written by Computers’ (The Guardian, 06 July 2017) <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/06/press-association-wins-google-grant-to-run-news-service-written-by-computers> accessed 07 February 2023
 Andrien v Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce (1991) 927 F.2d 132, 134-35 (3d Cir. 1991) (U.S.)
 Naruto et al v David Slater (2008) No. 16-15469 WL 1902414 (9th Cir. Apr. 23, 2018)
 Tata Consultancy Services v State of Andhra Pradesh (2004) 137 STC 620 (India).
 S Ricketson, ‘The 1992 Horace S. Manges Lecture – People or Machines: The Bern Convention and the Changing Concept of Authorship’ (1991-1992) 16 Colum.-VLA J.L. & Arts 1
 Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagblades Forening (2009) ECLI:EU:C:2009:465.
 A. Chakraborty, ‘Authorship of AI Generated Works under the Copyright Act, 1957: An Analytical Study’ (2019) 8 Nirma U.L.J. 47
 Naruto v Slater (2016) Case no. 15-cv-04324-WHO (N.D. Calif. 2016)
 Indian Copyright Act 1957,s 17