February 5, 2020

Content created by machines - the rights & responsibilities

Content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming prolific. From news, to games, to films, to artwork, we are at a point in time where creative content is increasingly being created by machines that are learning for themselves. And if they are creating content with little human intervention, what are the implications for the ownership and rights in the content? Who owns the copyright in content created by AI?  Who would be responsible if that content infringed the rights of another person?       

Our Copyright Act provides that the author is the first owner of copyright in a work. The “author” is defined as either being a human or a body corporate (e.g. a company). The Act also provides that the “author” of a computer-generated work is the person who made the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work. But who is that in the case of AI generated content – is it the developer that developed and programmed the AI?  Is it the user of the AI application that configured and set parameters around the AI’s task?  Or is it the AI itself where there has been little or no input from a human into the actual work created?

Recently a court in Shenzen, China, awarded damages to the tech giant Tencent as a result of a finding of copyright infringement – the work in question was written by Dreamwriter, an automated news-writing system developed by Tencent.

However, as AI applications become more autonomous, and make creative decisions with minimal human input, a question arises as to whether this is the right outcome. 

Our Copyright Act is currently under review and one of the questions MBIE has posed relates to whether the current rules relating to computer generated works are still fit for purpose and whether any changes are required. The first round of submissions are now closed, but watch this space if you would like to keep up to date on where we land on this issue.       

If you have any questions relating to adoption or use of AI technology, please get in touch.

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