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December 11, 2018

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AI copyright or wrong is difficult to decide

IF a company publishes an article generated by artificial intelligence, does it own the copyright?

Whether AI-generated content is copyrightable and the question of who owns it remains controversial.

China’s tech giant Baidu has been entangled in a dispute with the law firm Beijing Feilin over whether an AI-generated article is part of the public domain or the property of the publisher.

In September, Feilin issued a big data report to analyze judicial cases in the entertainment industry on its WeChat account.

It claims this was reposted the next day by Baidu’s Baijiahao news platform after deleting the byline and the last paragraph.

The law firm insists that Baidu published the article without permission, violating the plaintiff’s right of communication through the information network.

Baidu was also sued over alleged infringement of copyright and the right of integrity.

But the defendant argued in court that the report was a work by statistical data analysis software rather than an original creation, which did not belong to the plaintiff’s intellectual property and was thus excluded from copyright.

“This is a new case in the area of copyright protection, and the court needs to deal with many complex issues, such as the ownership and copyright of a work not created by a natural person,” said the presiding judge Lu Zhengxin.

There was no immediate ruling from the court.

Baidu’s dilemma highlights the murky landscape of IPR protection in the digital era, triggering a heated discussion.

“The copyrights of AI-generated works should be separated according to the efforts made by the stakeholders,” said one Weibo user. “For example, the AI designers can account for 80 percent of the copyright, while the users, who just input information such as keywords and data, make up a smaller proportion.”

According to law expert Xiong Qi, the vital criterion to determine if a work is copyright is its originality.

“AI cannot be regarded as a subject matter in law and is incapable of enjoying rights or undertaking any obligation,” he said.

“Since AI’s creativity is taught by its designers, copyrights of AI-generated works should be owned by AI designers.”

Li Chunguang, director of Yunnan Lingyun law firm, said the case was significant for future reference, especially as AI is developing so fast.



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