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If Artificial Intelligence Creates Art, Who owns the rights to it? [AI vs Human – Part 2]

Written by Sakthi Tharan

AI has grown much in the last few years. IBM’s Watson to support humans in solving legal cases, medical diagnosis and maybe in other cognitive aspects, Google’s AutoDraw that converts rough sketch into perfect shapes or drawings, and many other AI systems are capable supporting humans in solving various problems in various domains. The next big step for AI is creating. The sound generated by Google’s AI which human never heard before, the pictures out of the company’s DeepDream are some of the proof that shows the AI’s are capable of creating things/art/whatever. Obviously, there will be more AI’s producing more computer programs, arts and many other things. When it happens, who will get the royalty of those creations?

Psychedelic pieces of art by DeepDream

AI + IP (Intellectual Property).

There’s an article by Robert Hart, speaks the more on the legal view of IP rights over AI created arts. He compares the view with peculiar ‘Monkey-Selfie’ case, “If a monkey snaps a selfie, does he own the rights to his own photograph?”.

Selfie by Monkey

Naruto, a rare macaque monkey, shot to fame in 2011 when it picked up a British photographer’s camera and seemingly took a selfie. David Slater, the photographer in question, claims he owns the copyright to the stunning images, despite him not being the one who held the camera or clicked the shutter. Instead, he says the images belong to him because of the work he did in setting up the shot.

The US court’s stand was, the monkey cannot be awarded the rights for the selfie as the US law does not cover non-humans for copyright issues. In the case of AI’s, they are not human. If they can’t have the rights to the art? can the creator of AI, who designed it can have it? Still, there is no simple yes or no answer.

Okay, let’s say it is not an art, let’s assume AI has made some decision. On that case, someone has to take the responsibility for that decision and the outcomes. If the creator/designer of the AI is responsible for the outcomes, then the same person can be made eligible for owning the rights to anything created out of the AI. But there’s another problem.

AI is a decision-making engine, which uses ‘knowledge’ obtained from its learning, called Machine learning. The machine is taught to learn things from inputs we feed them. Let’s say we feed the machine with hundreds of Picasso’s art. The machine has processed those paintings and passes those information/knowledge to the AI system, which in turn produces some painting as an outcome. In this case, that particular painting is made out of those one hundred paintings of Picasso. Here comes the problem, who owns the right to the AI produced painting? Picasso or who created/running the AI?

Technology is growing at the fast pace. Unfortunately, our legal structure is not evolved at the same pace.

About the author

Sakthi Tharan

Alpha Geek | Blogger by interest | Former Web Developer & Designer | Research Scholar | Likes to share what he learned.

  • Ajith Srikumar

    I believe the copyrights to the photography belongs to the monkey itself! Such a Hard-work put into the masterpiece. Pity on the photographer who took credits for it! Haha. Well executed article!