The emergence of autonomous works as a result of the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, a comprehensive field that includes blockchains, algorithms, and other manifestations, has sparked concern regarding their ramifications on copyright and intellectual property rights. This article delves into the notion of designating “authorship” in the context of copyright legislation, taking into account the prerequisites of novelty for such works. It derives inspiration for its emphasis on artistic and musical creations from international legal systems that have examined the integration of AI technology. This paper assesses the viability of acknowledging AI technology as property under the legal system in India, which ignites a discussion regarding the fundamental nature of copyright legislation and the possibility of extending copyright protection to AI. It then explores the potential adaptation of traditional Indian copyright laws to incorporate these technological advancements, while emphasizing the importance of exercising prudence when modifying interpretations.

Building on the experiences of various global jurisdictions that have addressed the integration of technology into their legal systems, this study examines the crucial feasibility of attributing ownership to AI within India’s legal framework. Moreover, it extends the discourse on the fundamental principles of copyright laws and assesses the suitability and feasibility of granting copyrights to AI. It is of utmost importance to highlight that the term “Artificial Intelligence” encompasses a wide range of technologies, including algorithms, blockchains, and others. Therefore, the author intends to delve into these specific forms of AI in depth, underscoring their relevance and potential impact.

KEYWORDS: Artificial Intelligence, Copyright Law, Authorship, Originality, Intellectual Property Right


Artificial Intelligence: Applications and Impact:

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to a branch of computer science enabling computers to emulate human-like thinking and behaviour. Its applications span various domains, including:

  • Virtual assistants: AI-driven assistants aid in tasks such as scheduling appointments, setting reminders, and retrieving information.
  • Self-driving cars: AI enables these vehicles to autonomously navigate roads and identify obstacles, enhancing safety and efficiency.
  • Medical diagnosis: AI analyzes medical data and images to assist healthcare professionals in diagnosing diseases accurately and efficiently.
  • Fraud detection: By scrutinizing financial data, AI algorithms can identify patterns indicative of fraudulent transactions, bolstering security measures.

The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) has profoundly transformed content creation, raising intricate legal questions surrounding authorship, liability, and ownership. In India, governed by the Copyright Act of 1957, the burgeoning interaction between humans and AI systems has sparked a nuanced legal discourse. Fundamental inquiries such as the identification of the true author of AI-generated creations and the liability of algorithm creators or authors have come to the forefront. Today marks the commencement of a captivating exploration into the legal complexities surrounding AI-generated works in India, as we seek solutions amidst a confluence of legal frameworks and technological progress.

Determining copyright ownership for AI technology under the Indian Copyright Act hinges on establishing their status as authors, as ownership typically resides with the creator of the work. However, navigating this terrain becomes complex due to the novelty and immense potential of AI. Unlike human authors whose authorship is straightforward, attributing authorship to AI-generated, mechanical works poses challenges. AI technology, characterized by its exponential growth and integration into various aspects of human life, operates primarily through machine learning, analyzing patterns and data to replicate human-like actions. While designed to mimic human behaviour, AI remains distinct from natural human creators. 

The debate over authorship within intellectual property laws extends globally, with the United States Copyright Office notably refraining from recognizing non-human entities, such as AI, as authors eligible for copyright. In the U.S., copyright laws explicitly require human authorship to claim ownership, a stance upheld over time.

U.S. copyright laws explicitly state that only humans can be recognized as authors eligible for owning copyrights, a principle upheld consistently over time. Although the term “author” isn’t explicitly defined in Section 101 of the Copyright Act of 1976, court rulings have reinforced this interpretation. For instance, in the case of Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, the Supreme Court established that the individual who transforms an idea into a tangible form is considered the author. Similarly, in other cases, such as those heard by the Ninth Circuit, the courts emphasized human involvement in compiling, selecting, coordinating, and arranging creative works. U.S. courts typically seek evidence of human creativity and inspiration in copyrighted works, considering these qualities essential for authorship. They often highlight the unique personality and response to the natural world as integral elements for copyright protection. The Copyright Office’s stance aligns with court decisions, emphasizing that computer technologies lack the human creative spark necessary for authorship and original creation.

The UK has taken steps to accommodate AI-generated works within its copyright laws, explicitly recognizing them as copyrightable under section 178 of the CDPA. This provision allows for computer-generated works to be eligible for copyright even if no human author is involved. However, debates persist regarding authorship and ownership. Section 9(3) of the CDPA designates the author of such works as the individual who undertook the arrangements necessary for their creation, posing a choice between the creator of the AI and the user who enables its production. Yet, as AI systems advance and produce works autonomously, determining authorship becomes increasingly complex.

Similarly, Indian copyright laws, like those in the UK, define the “author” in a similar vein, attributing ownership to the person who caused the work to be created. This definition extends beyond natural persons to include juristic persons such as companies and organizations. While there are no legal precedents for AI-generated works in India, the inclusive nature of the provision suggests the potential for expanded interpretations of authorship for AI. However, challenges persist, as Indian jurisprudence typically envisions natural persons. For example, sections 22 and 51 of the Copyright Act refer to copyright  duration and infringement by “persons,” respectively, indicating a limited scope for AI creations within the legislation.

Despite these challenges, jurisdictions are deliberating on inclusion, necessitating contemplation of possible changes. In alignment with copyright principles, including the sweat and brow theory commonly used in India, the rightful author is considered the individual who exerted effort and labour to produce the work, thus meriting protection.

When it comes to granting copyright protection to any work, key considerations revolve around authorship, ownership, and the originality of the creation. However, attributing authorship or ownership to an individual becomes challenging in AI-generated or AI-assisted works. The question arises: should credit go to the programmers or developers who created the AI system, the company utilizing the AI technology and employing individuals to make with it, or the end-user who generates content using the AI tool? 

In the United States, works created using AI tools are typically denied protection due to the absence of “human authorship,” releasing them into the public domain. In most countries, the requirement for human authorship is of significant importance. Generally, copyrightable works stem from intellectual endeavours that, through skill and labour, result in something sufficiently unique to meet the originality requirement. Under US law, if end users utilize AI to create a work and acknowledge its use, they may claim intellectual property rights over that work. This complex landscape underscores the need for clarity in determining authorship and ownership within the context of AI-generated content.

What Is AI-Generated Content?

AI-generated content encompasses various forms of media, including written text, videos, code, audio, and more, produced by generative AI tools. These tools leverage extensive datasets to generate outputs that are contextually relevant to a given input, such as a wordphrase, or question.

The rapid progress of generative AI has revolutionised various facets of our lives, workplaces, and artistic procedures. Nevertheless, the widespread use of AI-produced text, graphics, and melodies has introduced numerous intricate legal concerns. These issues confront established beliefs of proprietorship, impartiality, and the very core of creativity. The emergence of AI-generated content has sparked debates regarding who holds ownership rights over such creations and the ethical considerations surrounding their production. Furthermore, the unprecedented scale and speed at which AI can generate content have blurred traditional boundaries, necessitating a re-evaluation of existing legal frameworks and intellectual property laws. As society grapples with these intricate issues, it becomes imperative to balance fostering innovation and creativity while ensuring equitable access to and protection of AI-generated works. This requires interdisciplinary collaboration among legal experts, technologists, ethicists, and policymakers to develop robust frameworks that address the evolving landscape of AI-generated content in a manner that upholds fairness, accountability, and creative expression.

Copyright Ownership In The US: Exploring The “Made For Hire” Solution

The “made for hire” doctrine outlined in the US Copyright Act of 1976 has been proposed as a potential solution to address the complexities surrounding authorship and ownership of AI-generated works. Under this doctrine, authorship is attributed to the employer for works created by employees under a made-for-hire agreement. To adapt to the challenges posed by AI-created works, suggestions have been made to redefine the terms “employer” and “employee” within the statute. This redefinition could include AI programmers or corporate entities owning the AI device as employers, while AI programs/devices could be considered employees since they operate based on instructions from the employer. However, this approach does not address situations where AI independently creates a work without human intervention. An example of such a scenario occurred in 2018-19 when the AI tool “DABUS” filed for copyright registration before the US Copyright Office (USCO), claiming authorship of autonomously created work. The USCO rejected the application, stating that the work lacked the human authorship required for copyright protection. In 2022, the Copyright Review Board upheld this decision, affirming that copyright protection cannot be extended to non-human creations under current laws. The Board emphasized that the “made for hire” doctrine necessitates binding legal contracts, which AI cannot enter into.

Similarly, the UK Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act of 1988 specifies that for computer-generated works, the person undertaking the necessary arrangements for creation shall be considered the author. This provision may lead to similar outcomes as seen in the DABUS case before the USCO and Review Board. However, in cases involving human co-authors, such as the example in Canada where both an AI painting app and a human co-author were listed in a copyright registration application, copyright protection was granted by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), bypassing the requirement for human authorship.

Copyright Challenges for AI-Generated Work in India

In the Indian legal context, Section 2(d)(vi) of the Copyright Act of 1957 defines an author of a computer-generated artistic work as the individual who causes the work to be created. However, this definition does not encompass works solely generated by AI, such as in the DABUS case.

 Additionally, Section 17(c) of the Act, akin to the “made for hire” doctrine in foreign jurisdictions, designates the author as the first owner of the copyright in works created during employment, unless otherwise agreed. 

The Delhi High Court, in the case of ‘Neetu Singh vs. Rajiv Saumitra and Ors.’, emphasized that for an employer to claim copyright, it must be established that the creation of the work was within the scope of the employee’s duties. Thus, if an employer initiates, authorizes, or directs the creation of a work, they may be considered the author under the Act. This implies that copyright protection may extend to AI-assisted or AI-generated works involving a human co-author. However, the challenge persists with works solely created by AI, where the AI itself seeks copyright protection. Many courts have historically held that intellectual property rights pertain only to humans, as they typically invest their intellect, labour, and skills voluntarily into creations. Moreover, copyright protection is traditionally granted to individuals who translate ideas into tangible expressions, a criterion that AI-generated works may not meet, as they lack the capacity for volition or free will. Consequently, establishing copyright for AI-created works presents significant legal hurdles due to the fundamental differences between human and AI creativity. The emergence of artificial intelligence in creating works poses significant implications for copyright law. In the past, ownership of copyright in computer-generated works was straightforward, as the program merely served as a tool in the creative process, akin to a pen and paper. However, with advancements in AI, the landscape has shifted. Modern AI systems are not merely tools but actively make decisions throughout the creative process without human intervention. This evolution challenges traditional notions of authorship and originality, as many definitions stipulate that copyright protection is reserved for works created by humans.

 In numerous jurisdictions, including Spain and Germany, copyright laws explicitly state that only human-created works are eligible for protection. 

Determining ownership of AI-generated works poses a complex challenge as AI advances. Who rightfully owns these creations? Should it be the programmer who developed the AI, the individual who supplied data to train the AI, or perhaps even the AI itself?

Defining the originality and creativity of AI-generated works further complicates matters. Current copyright law deems a work original if it stems from the author’s intellectual effort. Yet, applying this standard to AI-generated works is murky ground. Some contend these works lack originality because they originate from machines, while others argue they’re original due to the human-developed algorithms guiding them.

Enforcing copyright law against AI presents another hurdle. As AI capabilities evolve, they can autonomously identify and reproduce copyrighted content, potentially undermining copyright enforcement efforts.


In conclusion, addressing copyright and patent challenges may involve revising existing definitions within these statutes to accommodate AI-generated works more effectively. One potential solution could be to adopt a broader interpretation of terminology, such as incorporating the concept of “mechanical persons” alongside natural persons, to encompass AI-assisted or AI-generated creations better. 

Similarly, in trademarks, regulatory authorities must establish clear guidelines and regulations governing the use of AI systems. These regulations should outline prohibitions, bylaws, and other measures to ensure accountability and address issues related to misleading consumers or engaging in unfair trade practices facilitated by AI technology.  One possible resolution could involve redefining the concept of authorship, making a clear distinction between human creators and AI systems, and establishing a distinct category for works produced with AI assistance. Additionally, a key hurdle lies in discerning the extent of human input in the creation process. While AI typically relies on substantial datasets and training, it lacks the innate creativity and decision-making capabilities of humans. Therefore, the degree of human influence and creativity in AI-generated works should be a crucial consideration in determining copyright ownership.

Author: Shradha Suman Rath
Christ Deemed to be University Bangalore Karnataka

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *