Can a machine produce copyright material?

By Yves Faguy May 3, 20183 May 2018

Can a machine produce copyright material?


As businesses across all industries set their sights on a future built on artificial intelligence, there is a growing sense that policy makers are going to have to get serious about thinking through the impact of AI on intellectual property.  James Hinton and Peter Cowan wrote a piece about this last year, rightfully pointing out that most entrepreneurs in tech innovation have a limited understanding at best about IP in general.  Most of the concerns tend to focus on patents, particularly as Canada has set out to position itself as a hub of AI initiatives.

At the CCCA National Conference in Toronto this week Stephen Spracklin, a City of Mississauga lawyer focused on IT and IP issues raised another set of concerns around copyright, particularly as it applies to the more advanced artificial general intelligence, which is capable of learning in its own right without any human intervention (as opposed to artificial narrow intelligence – or ANI –, which is algorithmic learning that analyzes and synthesizes data, and with the input of human resources is able to arrive at a conclusion):

Under the limited copyright laws we have today, ANI could be used technology, like a camera or a computer. When you take your camera, you hold it up and you focus it, the camera intuitively goes in, adjusts for lighting,  adjusts for distance, it’ll do shutter speed and all those types of things. That is in effect ANI. And from a copyright perspective, the person using the tool owns the resulting intellectual property. From a creative element perspective a good argument could be made for ANI that the person who is using the technology would have a resulting ownership interest in the product that’s generated. With regards to AGI, copyright law in Canada requires a human element for the creative side of things. So, where there is no human element involved in AGI, there is no copyright protection for anything that’s generated by a computer today. So if you have AGI technology and you’re generating a revised algorithm that’s learning and self-perpetuating, that actually becomes public domain intellectual property.

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