Author of copyright works – man or machine?

December 24, 2019


Copyright protection arises automatically in literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works, and is an extremely useful intellectual property right. The author of a copyright work is the person who created it. In relation to computer-generated works the author is the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken. But what about artificial intelligence? If a piece of artificial intelligence creates a piece of copyright work, does it mean that it can be the author? Or would it be the individual who first created the artificial intelligence?

Under the current legislation, the individual who created the artificial intelligence would be attributed as the author of any copyright works created. However, it is questionable whether this is correct, as is it not the whole point of artificial intelligence to be able to think for itself and create works independently of human instruction?

Artificial intelligence is a hotly debated topic, with many not wishing to dive to into discussions about the legal status attributable to it. Even experts in the industry, penned an open letter to the European Commission in outrage against the European Parliaments suggestion that there should be the creation of a “electronic person” as a specific legal status.

However, when we say artificial intelligence, we should not always refer to the futuristic robots of the future. There are aspects of artificial intelligence such as machine learning programmes which can read passages of text and summarise the contents for you. Should the author of these works not be attributed to the programme for copyright purposes?

The law seems very slow to change with these types of technological developments, so it is likely that this debate will be ongoing for some time in the future. Regardless of whether you are using artificial intelligence to create copyright works, or your friend you should always consider who the author of the work is.

Briffa are experts in all aspects of copyright law and practice. If you would like a free consultation with one of our specialist copyright solicitors, please contact us on 020 7288 6003 or


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