Copyright Law and Artificial Intelligence

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) has assumed significant importance in the contemporary times as its use has become indispensable in most of the technological applications. It has not only dominated and transformed our lives in area of medical science, education, aviation, space but has also been expanding its role in Intellectual Property Rights.
The role of AI in creativity and innovation has been recognized worldwide as AI can now compose music, write blogs, novels, poetry, generate paintings and drawings. This paradigm shift has created serious issues and posed challenges in the areas of intellectual property rights more particularly in copyright law. In this blog, we will discuss the interrelation of Artificial Intelligence & copyright in India.

Copyright Law and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of machines to perform cognitive tasks like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem-solving, and decision-making. It makes a machine to carry out those tasks independently or with limited human intervention which may otherwise require human intelligence.

In the last few years, the world witnessed the generation of creative works by artificial intelligence. The development of artificial intelligence towards technologies capable of autonomous creation brings to the fore several interesting yet muddled copyright questions.

Artificial Intelligence and Copyright Law

The question that generally arises with Artificial Intelligence & Copyright in India is whether a man-made machine or intelligent agent may be regarded as an author in the eyes of copyright law.

The works created by AI may qualify for copyright protection in all the jurisdictions for being original. But, there will be no author in the case of AI-generated work. In case of AI-assisted works, there is human intervention. Therefore, in case of latter, the person who caused the work to be created by using artificial intelligence may claim himself to be the author, but the same is not true where the work has been created by AI itself without any human intervention.

The issue of authorship in such cases has puzzled all countries of the world. There can be three broad possibilities with respect to the authorship issue – 

(i) the copyright system should recognize authorship for AI

(ii) there should be no authorship in AI-generated work and the work should fall into the “public domain”

 (iii) there should be sui generis law rather than copyright law to protect such works.

The copyright protection serves as an incentive for the author to produce more creative works using his skills, labour and judgement. If the AI is recognised as an author and the AI generated works are protected under the copyright law, then it would mean that “human creativity” and “machine creativity” are on the same pedestal. On the other hand, if AI-generated works are not protected by copyright law, then it would necessarily mean that human creativity is preferred over machine creativity. Preferring machine creativity over human creativity or putting both at the same pedestal is likely to kill human creativity in the long run.

Artificial Intelligence and Indian Copyright Act

The Indian Copyright Act protects original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. But it does not define “computer-generated work” like CDPA. It however defines “author” in relation to “any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated” as “the person who causes the work to be created”.

In Camlin Pvt. Ltd. v. National Pencil Industries, the Delhi High Court elaborated the meaning of the term “author”. The Courts stated that “mechanically reproduced printed carton” was not a subject matter of copyright for the reason that it was not possible to determine who the author of such carton was. The Court further stated that “copyright is conferred only upon authors or those who are natural person from whom the work has originated. In the circumstances the plaintiff cannot claim any copyright in any carton that has been mechanically reproduced by a printing process as the work cannot be said to have originated from the author. A machine cannot be an author of an artistic work, nor can it have a copyright therein”. 

In Tech Plus Media Private Ltd v. Jyoti Janda, the Delhi Court held that “the plaintiff is a juristic person and is incapable of being the author of any work in which copyright may exist”. The Court further stated that the plaintiff, however, could become the owner of the copyright in the work under a contract with its author.


  • The AI may use biased and toxic language which may result in defamation or obscenity inciting violence on the lines of caste, creed or religion. In such a scenario, it will be difficult to fix the civil and criminal liability of the AI as it has not been recognized as a person.
  • Another issue is AI generated copyright infringement and AI art copyright infringement. Sometimes work happens to be “substantially similar” to an existing work which may have copyright. Further, if AI is treated as an author, it will not be entitled to transfer ownership in the work, in absence of personhood.
  • In addition, it will be difficult for AI to negotiate the royalty with others and enforce the rights which are available to the author under the copyright law. Making AI an author of the work will not be an easy task as it is likely to create more difficulties than to resolve them.
  • One of the objectives of copyright law is to provide an incentive to the author of the work in terms of providing economic rights and moral rights to motivate him to produce more works for the advancement of society. The AI, being non-human does not require any such motivation to create the work.
  • One should however, also consider the fact that if there is no protection to AI-generated works and the public is free to make use of such work without any authorization or paying any fee, it may turn out to be a death knell for those companies which invest a huge amount in the AI system to generate these works.


The role of AI is going to increase in all sectors in our day to day lives by leap and bounds. In case of intellectual property rights, particularly in copyright, AI will continue to play an extremely important role. The sui generis system may be a better option or alternatively, some provisions in the copyright legislations of the countries which are specifically drafted for AI and AI-generated works may address this issue. 

In any case, the AI-generated works should be provided lesser protection and human creativity should be preferred over machine creativity. A balanced approach or a new AI copyright law is therefore, the need of the hour.

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CS Urvashi Jain is an associate member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. Her expertise, inter-alia, is in regulatory approvals, licenses, registrations for any organization set up in India. She posse’s good exposure to compliance management system, legal due diligence, drafting and vetting of various legal agreements. She has good command in drafting manuals, blogs, guides, interpretations and providing opinions on the different core areas of companies act, intellectual properties and taxation.

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