AI and Copyright

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Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT raise several complicated issues where they intersect with copyright law.

  • Does training an AI model on copyrighted works infringe the copyright on those works? See Training AI Models and Copyright
  • If an AI system creates a written work, or an image, or a song, can that work be copyrighted? See AI as Author

Works Created by or using Artificial Intelligence[edit | edit source]

If a generative AI program writes a text, or a song, or creates a visual work, can that work be copyrighted?

Generally in the US and the EU, the answer is no, but under UK law the answer is yes.

Jurisdiction Can AI generated work be copyrighted? Notes
Australia No
UK Yes
India Yes
New Zealand Yes
Ireland Yes

Copyright of AI-generated works under US law[edit | edit source]

Under US law, the general rule is that only works created by a "natural person" (i.e. not software and not a non-human animal) can be copyrighted.

Under the U.S. Code, copyright law applies only to “original works of authorship.” (17 U.S.C. 102). And U.S. Courts have consistently held that a “work of authorship” means a creation of a human author.

Well before AI entered the headlines, the U.S. Copyright office refused to to register copyrights for (1) a photograph "taken" by a monkey and (2) an application for copyright that listed the "Holy Spirit" as the author of a song.

Copyright of AI-generated works under UK law[edit | edit source]

Under UK law, any "computer-generated" work can be copyrighted, and the author of any computer-generated work (including, presumably, AI-generated work) is likely the programmer or programmers who created the software that generated the work

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.

U.K Section 9(3) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) (emphasis added).

Generally New Zealand and India follow the UK approach.