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Who Owns The Rights to the Creations that the Created Create?

 

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As we move into the second quarter of the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI), expert legal and technology panelists continue to discuss applications for AI and probe the legal issues raised by the use of AI in the creative process.

AI is defined as the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that require intelligence. Examples include visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. As processing power gets even cheaper, and data gets even more available, AI solutions are becoming more accessible.

Horizontal and vertical AI solutions are being offered as platforms (bots), services (configurable building blocks), or software tools (proprietary or open source). The distinction between horizontal and vertical AI solutions is that of demand and resources. Enterprises with larger talent pools are focused on solving for broader, general use cases whereas startups with specialized talent pools are focused on solving for narrower, targeted industry use cases.

Machine learning (ML) extends the applicability of AI by providing computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. These programs can change in response to new data. Learning occurs from structured and unstructured data. The learning process, however, is inherently structured and supervised, and therefore takes effort and time.

In the year of AI, we have finally downgraded our expectations of AI solutions to be more realistic. Most have accepted the fact that AI is not an oracle, but rather an enabler. This adjustment has re-cast previous applications of novelty edge cases as mainstream AI solutions. AI is even being used to create new original works, like music, art, and other creative systems that challenge our traditional legal protection constructs.

It is generally accepted that computer programs should be protected by copyright, whereas mechanisms using computer software or software-related inventions should be protected by patents. Copyrights do not extend to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts. Patents can be granted as exclusive rights to an invention. An invention is defined as a product or a process that provides a novel way of performing a task or offers a new technical solution to a problem.

In the third edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, the U.S. Copyright Office states that works that lack human authorship are not copyrightable. How do these stipulations extend to AIs as co-creators? Our definition of human includes the ability to make autonomous decisions, exhibit unpredictable behavior, and cause unexpected results. Today, AI can do that. The nascent area is that of the complexity of human values.

For sure, there is uncertainty in this emergent space. There is a growing interest in this sector by investors, entrepreneurs, and enterprises. In 2016, the global AI market was worth approximately USD 644 million, expected to double in 2017, and grow to USD 37.8 billion by 2025. AI solution providers have embraced an honest, collaborative, and iterative approach to designing AI solutions.

The pragmatic line of thinking starts with acknowledging that algorithmic creativity, whether broad or narrow, is a tool to achieving an end; not an end in itself. Collaborative institutions such as OpenAI are being sponsored by individuals and companies to provide transparency and advance digital intelligence in a way to most benefit humanity. OpenAi conducts essential and long term research and builds free software for training, benchmarking, and experimenting with AI.

Finally, the information architecture that underpins AI solutions must be designed with agility and adaptability in mind. The boundaries between structured and unstructured data need to remain fluid as machines advance in their ability to process natural language. Just as use cases and constraints evolve, longer term players will survive due to the strengthen of their compliance programs.

Panelists:

  • Aaron Wright, Associate Clinical Professor at Cardozo Law School (Moderator)
  • Dennis Mortensen, Founder and CEO at ai
  • Robert Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Registration Policy and Practice at S. Copyright Office
  • Caroline McCaffery, General Counsel at Clarifai, Inc
  • Christopher Buccafusco, Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School

 


 

 

Image credit: CC by Michael Cordedda

About the author: Rohinee Mohindroo

Rohinee Mohindroo is a Transformational Technology Leader, helping organizations elevate customer and employee experiences by delivering scale, speed, and stability. Rohinee is available in a consultancy role to startups who are scaling up and to enterprises who are strategically focused on digital transformations.

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