Robojournalism – A Copyright Study on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in the European News Industry
GRUR International, 2022, 71(7), p. 589-602.
27 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2022 Last revised: 28 Mar 2023
Date Written: February 10, 2022
The copyright protectability of outputs generated by or with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hotly debated question in academia and by many institutions. In practice, sophisticated AI algorithms have become a meaningful assistant in the European news industry in the reporting of sports (Retresco’s collaboration with the German Football Association), weather (textOmatic’s collaboration with FOCUS Online) or finance (the Guardian’s “Guarbot”). Furthermore, for the first time in copyright history, albeit in China, a court had to assess the validity of a company’s copyright claim over the articles produced by the corporation’s algorithm. The protection with copyright of robojournalism is no longer just a buzzwordy trend.
From a technological perspective, robojournalism currently relies on assistive, generative and distributive technologies. The first two seem to be the most problematic from a copyright perspective as they challenge the well-rooted human authorship requirement. While so far experts have agreed that it does not look like AI technology is going to be a disruptive force in the media industry, researching the impact of AI in journalism matters a great deal. There are numerous benefits stemming from the use of AI in the newsroom - from expanding news coverage, through fast content production, all the way to leaving journalists more time for “creative” and investigative tasks where the algorithm remains weak.
This paper addresses, first, the protectability of the outputs of robojournalism under the existing European Union copyright laws. Second, it introduces the findings related to the practical significance of robojournalism in the European news industry. Here, our focus is on the business, media and communications studies perspectives of automated journalism. Our results demonstrate that the extent to which European journalism relies on assistive and generative technologies to produce written output does not justify, from a copyright perspective, the changing of the current anthropocentric copyright system. These findings have wider implications as AI-generated outputs have prompted many to talk about market failure in case copyright (or related rights) protection is refused for such works.
Keywords: artificial intelligence, copyright law, robojournalism, European media industry, authorship, originality
JEL Classification: L00, K10, K11, K19, K33, K39, O30, O33, O34
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