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AI and Intellectual Property Protection

posted 8 months ago

AI or Artificial Intelligence is an intelligent machine that could perform task and mimic some human ability which make a difficulty to future role of human. Currently, some AI could perform an artwork, but the following question is that if AI or non-human creature could generate artworks independently, will intellectual property law protect this non-human creativity.

According to Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, there is no definition of the term “author”; however, it is known that in many counties including Thailand, the subject of the authorship needs to have skill labor and thus human ship is required. Importantly, artistic mind is a crucial part of the artwork which is an ability that AI or non-human creators cannot approach. For example, the starry night showing a dimness of night sky with a dark blue shade contrast with a yellow color interpreted the emotion turbulence of the artist called “Van Gogh”.

In United State, the protection under copyright law is not expanded to non-human creator. As a result, non-human author is unable to hold an ownership of the work. This statement was mentioned in Naruto, the monkey, selfies case. The case began with the accusation of PETA, the animal-right nonprofit organization, claimed that the photo shot by the monkey “Naruto” should not be owned by the defendant or the photographer. PETA claimed that the creativity should be upon humanity; thus, the organization requested that the defendant should pay for a royalty fee to the place where monkey lives. However, The US court disagreed and affirmatively ordered that animal was not capable to file a lawsuit since they were not legal persons under the copyright’s protection in the US. It could therefore imply from this decision that non-human creator could not hold the ownership of copyright. Only legal persons that the US copyright law recognize.

Interestingly, Australia court was the first country mentioning about the possibility of recognition of AI as an inventor. The judge had ruled that since the definition under Section 2C of the Interpretation Act 1901 does not include the term “inventor” as a person so AI could be an inventor. However, the higher court rejected this judgment and brought back to the decision that the copyright holder should be owned by a natural human.

Under Thai legal system, the current Copyright Act defines the term “author” as a “person” who makes or creates any work which means that intellectual property law in Thai currently protects only human’s work. It is therefore reflected that there is currently no intellectual property protection over non-human inventor including AI.

Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn – Managing Partner, The Legal Co., Ltd.

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