Copyright is one the most important aspect of intellectual property rights,
it protects any unauthorized utilization of an original work of the author. In
India copyright related laws are primarily governed by The Copyright Act, 1957
which grants exclusive rights to the author over its original work for his/her
lifetime and 60 years afterwards.
Earlier copyright was mainly granted to any original work which has some form of
artistic expression for example films, music, lyrics, books & novels, etc. but
now even software can be copyrighted because it is deemed that a software is a
programme like a book written in a certain language or code. One of the products
of this technology is Artificial Intelligence that mimics the human intelligence
to perform tasks which a human would have performed by applying his independent
Although an AI is initially created by programming it but later it can perform
tasks and create original works like music, lyrics, pictures on its own, without
receiving any external input by its creator this way it technically becomes the
author of the produced work.
Implications in Copyright
Earlier all the work that were being produced by the computers were directly due
human intervention so every right pertaining to that work were given to the
creator of AI only but due to advancement in informational technology field the
AI has become much more powerful and thus capable of producing original works
independently of its creator this begs a serious question "who should be the
author of such work – creator of AI, AI itself or nobody? We will look into this
The best and most followed practice is to give all the copyright related rights
to the programmer of AI himself the argument behind this is that the AI or by
extension its creation would never have come into existence without the
programmer's intellectual creativity, therefore logically the authorship should
be awarded to the programmer itself.
This practice is usually followed in nations like Hong Kong, India and UK. This
rule is best summarized in UK copyright law, section 9(3) of the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act (CDPA), which says that: "In the case of a literary,
dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall
be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of
the work are undertaken."
Furthermore, a UK High Court in Nova Production Ltd v. Mazooma Game Ltd
where the authorship of video game produced by AI was in dispute the court held
that author of the work was the programmer who "devised the appearance of the
various elements of the game and the rules and logic by which it was generated
and who wrote the relevant computer program"
It is often argued that AI should be given the sole copyright ownership where it
has produced completely original work using its own computational intellect
independently of its creator, but this rule gets barred mainly due to two
First, granting a machine sole ownership would directly amount to granting AI a
legal personality this way it can exercise its rights but in present scenario no
country recognizes such rights to a machine. Second, it is pretty much
established fact throughout the world that a copyright can only be granted to an
original work which a result of human creativity and intellect and AIs not being
a human cannot have same rights as humans.
For example, United States' copyright office has categorically said that it will
"register an original work of authorship, provided that the work was created by
a human being". This above-mentioned remark of copyright office gets its
strength from a case law Feist Publications v Rural Telephone Service Company,
Inc. where the court said that "the fruits of intellectual labour that are
founded in the creative powers of the mind" hence only a product of human
intellect possesses the capability of copyright.
In Australia also, copyright is available to the creator of an AI machine in the
"machine's source code" only but not in the AI-generated work because of the
lack of human intervention this rule flows from the case (Acohs Pty Ltd v
Ucorp Pty Ltd
), here the court declared that a work generated with the
intervention of a computer could not be protected by copyright because it was
not produced by a human.
Recently in India the above-mentioned rules have been relaxed by the copyright
office where an AI called RAGHAV along with the owner of the AI were granted the
co-authorship for a painting image "suryast" which was produced by the AI
Another popular stance regarding the authorship of an AI generated creative work
is that it should be deemed to be free i.e., it has no owner and can be used by
anyone just like creative commons. This scenario becomes hostile for the
companies as they put in a lot of effort and capital to develop a sophisticated
AI in hope that one day, they will be able to make profit out of the works
produced by AI but if their AI generated works gets no copyright.
They cannot make any profit out of it. Although this practice can be quite
beneficial for the common public, but it leaves no incentive for the tech
companies to continue investing in a project from which they won't derive any
economic reward this seriously hinders the innovation.
Position of Indian laws
As discussed earlier that almost every law pertaining to copyright in India is
governed by the Copyright Act, 1957. One of reasons as to why in India a
copyright is not granted to an AI is section 2(d) of The Copyright Act, 1957.
This section defines the term 'author'. For ownership of any copyrighted work,
the person should fall under the domain of an "author".
This bars the AI from owning any authorship because they are generally not
regarded as a legal person as we have discussed earlier. According to Section 2
(d) "author" means,- (vi) in relation to any literary, dramatic, musical or
artistic work which is computer generated, the person who causes the work to be
The problem in this definition is the phrase 'the person who causes the work to
be created'. For a person to cause a work to be created proximity of the person
with the work is important and for the purpose of this act person here means a
human or a legal person. Thus, the current Copyright Act is not inclusive of AI
Thus, when it comes to works that are created by AI, their authorship would be
indecisive under Indian Copyright Laws. The position of section 2(d) of The
Copyright Act has continuously been iterated in catena of judicial decisions for
example 5 in Tech Plus Media Private Ltd v. Jyoti Janda
, the Delhi Court
held that "the plaintiff is a juristic person and is incapable of being the
author of any work in which copyright may exist".
Truly, AI generated works are copyright nightmare for authorities throughout the
world as till now we have reached no common ground regarding this issue. Weak AI
like Siri & Alexa have already been adopted by common public and industry
specific AI are already being used to generate works in music, journalism,
films, and gaming.
Use of AI by the artists and common public is only going to be more widespread
than ever before as AI continue to become more powerful, sophisticated and
independent thus blurring the line of distinction between the works produced by
human and AI. As for Indian position regarding copyright, in order to make AI
more inclusive in Indian Copyright law the legislature should come up AI
specific copyright law and first step could be by recognizing the legal status
By granting AI a legal personality thus making it capable of holding its rights.
In conclusion the need of hour is that all the countries should come together to
reach a common ground on who should get copyright of an AI generated work and
countries on domestic level must start making AI specific copyright laws to
prevent future complications as it is going to be even more complex also to
prevent misuse of this vacant law.
- Nova Productions Ltd v.mazooma Games Ltd and ors.  ECDR6,
- Artificial intelligence and copyright (wipo.int)
- Copyright And Artificial Intelligence - Copyright - India (mondaq.com)
- Exclusive: India recognises AI as co-author of copyrighted artwork |
Managing Intellectual Property (managingip.com)
- Feist Publications v Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc. 499 U.S. 340