Copyrightability of Artworks Produced by Creative Robots, Driven by Artificial Intelligence Systems and the Concept of Originality: The Formality - Objective Model

56 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2017 Last revised: 11 May 2017

See all articles by Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid

Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid

Yale Law School; ONO Academic College; Yale University - Information Society Project; Fordham University, School of Law

Luis Antonio Velez-Hernandez

Fordham Law School

Date Written: March 30, 2017

Abstract

In our new era of advanced technology, creative robots, driven by sophisticated artificial intelligence systems and hence, acting autonomously, are capable of producing innovative artistic and other works — ones which, had they been created by humans, would be eligible for copyright protection. This article addresses the question of copyrightability of artworks created by creative robots. We argue that creative robots as autonomous entities are capable of holding copyrights in art works they produce. However, the greatest hurdle to this notion, from the copyright law point of view, is the interpretation of the most important concept in copyright protection: the requirement of originality. Therefore, in this article we are revisiting the concept of originality. This article argues that confronting the challenges of the new 3A era (advanced, automated and autonomy), calls for a reassessment of the meaning of originality, which is undefined in the field of copyright protection both in international law, under the Berne Convention, and in domestic U.S. copyright law. The lack of a clear definition means that the existing concept of originality is inadequate for addressing new, possibly “copyrightable” works produced by creative robots. Moreover, the lack of a clear definition leads to interpretations of “originality” that are vague, immeasurable, and disharmonized, does already cause confusion in the industry as well as the public. This uncertainty surrounding an important legal concept has triggered a search for a solution that could eliminate or, at the very least, reduce future conflicts. This article suggests that a more formal, objective approach — as opposed to the existing, subjective (or mixed) approach — to the concept of originality should be adopted. The proposed objective approach might be applicable to works created by creative robots as well as artworks generated by digital tools and is further warranted by the intangible, vague nature of art. We suggest that a consistent legal determination of the question “what is original?” can successfully be achieved only by a formal, objective, descriptive approach.

Suggested Citation

Yanisky-Ravid, Shlomit and Velez-Hernandez, Luis Antonio, Copyrightability of Artworks Produced by Creative Robots, Driven by Artificial Intelligence Systems and the Concept of Originality: The Formality - Objective Model (March 30, 2017). Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2943778 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2943778

Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

ONO Academic College ( email )

Tzahal Street 104
Kiryat Ono, 55000
Israel

Yale University - Information Society Project ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

Fordham University, School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

Luis Antonio Velez-Hernandez

Fordham Law School ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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