The USPTO wants to know if artificial intelligence can own the content it creates

From The Verge:

The US office responsible for patents and trademarks is trying to figure out how AI might call for changes to copyright law, and it’s asking the public for opinions on the topic.

. . . .

The office is gathering information about the impact of artificial intelligence on copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights. It outlines thirteen specific questions, ranging from what happens if an AI creates a copyright-infringing work to if it’s legal to feed an AI copyrighted material.

It starts off by asking if output made by AI without any creative involvement from a human should qualify as a work of authorship that’s protectable by US copyright law. If not, then what degree of human involvement “would or should be sufficient so that the work qualifies for copyright protection?”

Other questions ask if the company that trains an AI should own the resulting work, and if it’s okay to use copyrighted material to train an AI in the first place. “Should authors be recognized for this type of use of their works?” asks the office. “If so, how?”

. . . .

But it’s not always cut and dry. Already, coders have claimed authorship over the “push button” works their AI software creates, which happened earlier this year in a distribution deal Warner Music brokered with the startup Endel. “That’s where it gets more complicated,” Rosen says. “I don’t have a clear answer on that.”

As The Verge previously examined, questions like these are at the heart of ongoing discussions around AI and copyright law. It’s a downright messy subject with no clear answers. There is some basic guidance in the Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, which says that works produced by a machine with no creative input or intervention from a human can’t be given authorship. But it looks like the Patent and Trademark Office feels this definition won’t hold up as AI’s hand in creative works continues to get more complicated and nuanced.

. . . .

But it’s not always cut and dry. Already, coders have claimed authorship over the “push button” works their AI software creates, which happened earlier this year in a distribution deal Warner Music brokered with the startup Endel. “That’s where it gets more complicated,” Rosen says. “I don’t have a clear answer on that.”

As The Verge previously examined, questions like these are at the heart of ongoing discussions around AI and copyright law. It’s a downright messy subject with no clear answers. There is some basic guidance in the Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, which says that works produced by a machine with no creative input or intervention from a human can’t be given authorship. But it looks like the Patent and Trademark Office feels this definition won’t hold up as AI’s hand in creative works continues to get more complicated and nuanced.

Link to the rest at The Verge

PG says, “Well, bless their hearts!”

The USPTO still has a copyright registration computer system straight out of 1983 (among other things, the site warns the user that any browser other than Mozilla Firefox may not work right) and now they want to figure out Artificial Intelligence.

Those lawyers who wish to become patent attorneys sometimes put in a couple of years as patent examiners at the USPTO for experience on the other side of patent prosecution, but the smart ones leave for better-paying pastures after that. PG is not aware of anything similar happening on the copyright side of the building.

That said, it’s an interesting question.

If you would like to see what artificial intelligence is doing right now (that you can see from the outside of heavily-guarded AI development labs), check out the following:

  1. This Person Does Not Exist – https://www.thispersondoesnotexist.com/ – a zillion images that look exactly like ordinary human beings except they’re not. An AI created each and every one.
  2. Artbreeder – https://artbreeder.com/browse – A computer will combine lots and lots of images to make new ones that sometimes look vaguely real and at other times clearly originate in another dimension.
  3. GANPaint Studio – http://ganpaint.io/demo/?project=church – add features to photos of churches