For the first time in India, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) device has been registered as a co-author in a copyrighted work. Titled “Suryast”, the painting is said to have been created by “Raghav”(an artificial intelligence painting app) and one Mr. Ankit Sahni an IP lawyer who owns the said App. In an interview with an online platform, Mr. Sahni has stated that the application was accepted by the Copyright Office only after the addition of both names, Sahni and Raghav as co-authors of the artistic work.
This decision of the Indian Copyright Office assumes significance in the light of the DABUS patents discussed last week. This is the third ever intellectual property granted that recognises an AI as a creator/co-creator of a protected work. Contextualised against the Parliamentary Committee Report’s suggestion to examine existing Copyright and Patent Laws to enable the protection of AI created works, this decision seems to be a step in the right direction.
Creative works qualify for copyright protection if they are original, with most definitions of originality requiring a human author. Most jurisdictions, including Spain and Germany, state that only works created by a human can be protected by copyright. The matter of recognition of AI in the copyright regime has been discussed in India with vigour. The main objective of the copyright laws is to protect original works created by the human mind, displaying the use of intellect. In the Indian domain, copyright protects the expression of the creative and original work of the author and not his idea. Section 2(d)(vi) of the Copyright Act, 1957 deals with work created by computer and further provides that the person who is responsible to cause the work is the “author”. This leaves no room for recognition of a non-human author, while not expressly precluding the possibility of such recognition. But with the latest types of artificial intelligence, the computer program is no longer a tool; it actually makes many of the decisions involved in the creative process without human intervention.
There are two ways in which copyright law can deal with works where human interaction is minimal or non-existent. It can either deny copyright protection for works that have been generated by a computer or it can attribute authorship of such works to the creator of the program. However, attributing authorship to the creator of the program , in cases where the work was solely the AI’s creation, is not a desirable result, for ethical reasons.
This decision by the Indian Copyright Office is of interest to all IP lawyers as the principle behind the grant of all forms of IP is the same – recognition of human creation and protecting them from unfair exploitation by others. The Parliamentary Committee Report has suggested amendments in the law, DABUS has been recognised as an inventor in two jurisdictions, and India has now recognised an AI as a co-author of an artistic work. These developments seem to set the stage for a radical change in the way AI is treated in the eyes of the law. This is sure to have far reaching implications in the commercial world and in our understanding of several legal concepts such as rights, person, and liability.
Future developments in this realm are of increasing importance and shall be keenly watched by people all over the world.