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Who Owns the Copyright for AI Art?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 07, 2019 1:00 PM

Artificial intelligence can write, paint, and even create sculpture.

This AI art has ushered in a new gold rush, the connoisseurs say. The purists wonder, however, whether it will reinvent or destroy art.

Lawyers, meanwhile, wonder who owns the copyrights. After all, art is also about the money.

Life of the Artist

Artwork often becomes more collectible after the artist dies, but artificial intelligence never dies. That's interesting because the Copyright Act is based on the life of the artist.

However, there are more interesting issues in AI copyright law. It's hardly a practice area, but lawyers ought to think about it.

Strangely, a monkey may have already addressed the main issue. Did Naruto, the selfie-monkey, own the copyright to his famous mug shots?

No, said the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Copyright Act protects the creative works of humans.

Work of Humans

Mike Masnick, writing for TechDirt, says that should settle the AI question. The issue came up recently because a newspaper published an article written by AI. Here's what it said:

"This new, artificial intelligence approach could revolutionize machine learning by making it a far more effective tool to teach machines about the workings of the language," the robot wrote.

Of course, there is a big difference between a monkey and a robot. Humans and copyrights, it seems, are somewhere in between.

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