In 2018, a piece of art created by means of artificial intelligence was sold at Christie’s auction in New York for approximately, $432,500. This work was called ‘Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy’ and was created through a collaboration between human and a machine which used an algorithm to make certain creative choices. The sale of this work was a milestone for artificial intelligence and the creative industry, however, this was not the first work of art to be created as a result of artificial intelligence. Specifically, in 2016 the ‘Next Rembrandt’ was created by a computer which examined several Rembrandt original works and used this data to create a new original work.
Questions have been raised with respect to authorship or such works (including patent inventorship) and whether artificial intelligence is capable of being an original author in accordance with UK law. Pursuant to the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, the author of a computer generated work is the person whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken. Therefore, the author of the Edmond de Belamy from La Famille de Belamy will be the person who made the necessary implementations to allows the machine to create the work, whether that be to type the necessary code or otherwise. Nevertheless, as advances in artificial intelligence progress and machine learning develops whereby computers may begin to make self-autonomous decisions in the creation of works, does UK law give scope to allow for these changes?
As of 28 June 2022, the UK Government published its response to its consultation on Intellectual Property and forms of Artificial Intelligence. The consultation touched on copyright protection for computer generated works where it can be argued there is no human author, certain exceptions to copyright for text and data mining which is significant in artificial intelligence use and patent protection for artificial intelligence devised inventions. Following the initial consultation, the Government believed that there was no need for change with respect to computer generated works and artificial intelligence devised patents, however accepted that certain changes need to be made with respect to text and data mining. In its recent publication with reference to this consultation, the Government has put forward its intentions to revise current UK copyright law to make it more accessible to review and analyse data for the purposes of machine learning, research and innovation. With respect to artificial devised patents and computer generated works, the Government has stuck with its decision that there is no need to make any reforms to UK patent and copyright law as it stands today, as it believes the current legislation is sufficient. Nevertheless, the Government has stated it will continue to keep the developments of artificial intelligence and machine learning under review so to ensure that rules governing inventorship and authorship continue to coincide with the developments of artificial intelligence innovation.
Written by Tom Staveley, Solicitor
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