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Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) Own a Copyright? The USPTO Wants to Know


On October 30th, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published an official notice requesting input from copyright law experts, legal professionals, AI experts, and members of the general public on how to best develop laws and regulations pertaining to artificial intelligence and copyright law. Among other things, the USPTO wants to know: Should AI be able to own a copyright? Here, our copyright lawyers review three questions that the USPTO is currently reviewing.

Preparing for Future Copyright Law Questions: Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

What If No Human Input is Involved—Is a Work Still Copyrightable? 

The first, and perhaps most interesting question, asks: should artificial intelligence be able to obtain for work that requires no human input? At the current time, this is more of a theoretical question, though things are changing quickly. The USPTO is preparing regulations for a future in which AI can produce original work without any human input at all. If the work is determined to be copyrightable despite its complete lack of human input, who gets control of the copyright? Will it be the company or individual that owns the AI? What if the AI was developed by multiple parties and ownership is unclear?

If Not, How Much Human Involvement is Necessary?

If lawmakers and regulators determine that an AI cannot produce a copyrightable work, the USPTO will need to develop standards to assess how much human input must be involved in an original work before it becomes eligible for copyright protection. The agency is interested in getting expert and public opinion on what type of standards should be used to address this matter. 

What Happens If an AI Creates a Work that Violates Copyright Law? 

Finally, a very important question that the USPTO needs to address: Who can be held responsible if an AI produces work that violates another party’s copyright protection? Do companies and programmers have a legal duty to ensure that artificial intelligence is aware of and complies with copyright law? To what extent is that even technologically feasible? If and when copyright infringement does occur, what legal remedies will be available to help people protect their copyright against infringement from AI? These are all interesting and important questions that legislators and regulators must answer in the coming years.

Want to Submit a Comment on this Issue? You Have Until December 16th  

If you are interested in giving input on artificial intelligence and copyright law, you have until December 16th, 2019 to submit a comment to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). After this date, further public comments on the issue may not be formally reviewed by the agency. 

Call Our Miami, FL Copyright Lawyers for Immediate Assistance

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami copyright litigation attorneys have extensive experience representing individuals and businesses in complex commercial disputes. To schedule a review of your case, please call us right away. From our offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, we are well-positioned to serve clients all over the region.



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