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Copyright law: Who owns what artificial intelligence creates?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2019 | Copyright Law

When it comes to artistic works and ownership, most people probably think that whoever created a particular piece of art is the person who should own it. These matters aren’t always so simple, though, since companies can purchase works of art and the copyright that goes with them. The advancement of technology brings a new layer in the discussion of copyright law as experts try to determine how to handle artistic works created by artificial intelligence (AI). New York artists may want to pay attention to this debate since it may affect the usage of artistic works that already exist.

There are several questions that the United States Patent and Trademark Office is trying to answer, but the two biggest may be who owns works created by AI, and is it illegal to feed an AI copyrighted works to produce something new? The first question seems as though it has a simple answer, that whoever created the AI would own any work it generates. However, since a human isn’t directly involved in creating that work, it’s unclear as to whether it should be protected by a copyright. The answer to the second question might lead to more questions, such as whether an artist whose work is fed into an AI owns any resulting artistic output.

For now, the USPTO is looking for input from companies and entities that have an interest in this area of the law, but they’re also accepting opinions from the public, particularly those who work in artistic fields. Representatives for the USPTO say they want to get ahead of this potential problem before it becomes too big to effectively handle. As technology continues to move forward these questions need to be considered seriously.

No matter what the USPTO decides, this issue shows just how important it is for artists of all mediums to ensure that their works are protected by the law. Artists deserve to have their works used only with their approval, and they should be the ones profiting from their work. Those who have questions about any area of copyright law here in New York may want to consult an attorney who has extensive experience handling these types of legal issues.