Artificial Intelligence and the Copyright Dilemma

24 Pages Posted: 31 May 2017

See all articles by Kalin Hristov

Kalin Hristov

University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) - School of Public Affairs

Date Written: September 1, 2016


Authorship of copyrightable works has been a hotly contested issue in the American legal system for over 200 years. With the recent boom of artificial intelligence, more and more creative works have been the result of non-human authors. Computer algorithms and learning machines have become a new source of creativity. The U.S. Copyright Office, however, has been slow to acknowledge the significance of AI in the creative process by denying copyrights of non-human works and releasing them into the public domain. This paper addresses the issue of IP ownership of AI generated works. It argues that giving authorship to AI programmers and owners is essential to the future development of the AI industry. The paper proposes that instead of redefining “authorship” to include non-humans, it is simply necessary to reinterpret the terms “employee” and “employer” in the made for hire doctrine of the U.S. Copyright Act. This reinterpretation would allow the current IP system to continue promoting “the progress of science and useful arts” without a lengthy or controversial overhaul of the rules and guidelines currently set in place.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, AI, Machine Learning, Copyright, Work Made for Hire, Intellectual Property, IP, Employer, Employee, Programmer, Owner, Author, Authorship, Copyright Act

Suggested Citation

Hristov, Kalin, Artificial Intelligence and the Copyright Dilemma (September 1, 2016). IDEA: The IP Law Review, Vol. 57, No. 3, 2017, Available at SSRN:

Kalin Hristov (Contact Author)

University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Hefei, Anhui

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