Exploring the Intellectual Property Aspects of AI Art

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been steadily making its presence felt in everyday life and is fast turning into a disruptive as well as a transformative force in modern times. From healthcare, finance, education, entertainment and even legal sectors, AI is taking over traditional practices and opening up new possibilities in improving efficiency, reducing costs, enhancing accuracy, and help achieve business cycle optimization.

Another area where AI is making rapid strides is in reviewing and refining data to push the boundaries of artistic expression and creativity. AI art is making waves in myriad ways. During Onam festival in 2023, Kalyan Silks had run an AI generated advertisement campaign in the local dailies.

AI Art (artificial intelligence art) is any form of digital art created or enhanced with AI tools. Though commonly associated with visual art, AI art also encompasses audio compositions, including music. AI art challenges the very notion of humans as the sole creators of art or art as intellectual creativity of humans.

With text-to-image generative AI tools, such as Dall-E or Stable Diffusion, humans no longer need to attempt to draw the image they want; they simply type a text prompt into the tool, which generates the desired imagery or leave it to AI to generate one. The algorithms needed to generate AI artwork can range from simple randomness or chaos theory-based approaches to more complex methods such as neural networks, deep learning, and natural language processing.

With the help of machine learning algorithms, computer technology employs various technique to tweak, enhance or even generate entirely new works of art. In the year 2014, researcher Ian Goodfellow developed a generative adversarial network (GAN) employing deep learning and neural networks which engendered a scenario whereby anyone or even AI itself could create works of art by relying on these aspects.

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more sophisticated and regulations are yet to be firmly put in place, global artists community have raised red flags about the place of AI art in the creative field. Under such a scenario, artists, digital illustrators and concept artists are worried about impact of AI on them and are in the dark on dynamic requisite-skills upgradation needs.

AI-generated art needs to factor in potential pitfalls including: Authorship, Bias, Copyright, Originality

With technological advancement in deep learning and neural networks, we have creative AI art without human intervention. This has caused various countries to grapple with issues of granting copyrights, ownership, authorship and in attributing ethical accountability.

Copyright laws specifically aim to: (i) to foster creativity and incentivize authors, composers, artists, and designers to produce original works. (ii) serves to shield creators of original works from unauthorised reproduction or exploitation of their creations.[1]

For instance, the US Copyright Office has categorically rejected such applications on the ground that a ‘work meets legal and formal requirements of copyright protection only if it is created by a human author’. The UK Intellectual Property Office, on the other hand, understands the evolving nature of computer-generated works and is taking a wait and watch approach.

In Stephen Thaler v. Shira Perlmutter, the US Copyright Office’s decision to reject an application for copyright registration for visual art produced exclusively by artificial intelligence was upheld by the US District Court.

In India, the copyright act 1957, chapter III Section 13 elaborates on provisions of copyright subsisting works while Sections 17 and 57 address authorship and moral rights-, all of which address humans and not non-human entity in its ambit.

The Indian Copyright Office in 2020 after rejecting an application listing AI (RAGHAV) as the sole author for an artwork, approved a second application where a natural person and an AI (RAGHAV) were named as co-authors for another artwork. Subsequently the copyright office issued a withdrawal notice, around one year later. The cancellation process of this particular registration, more of a legal procedure, is pending before the court. Pending resolution, this case could operate as a precedent.

While in India, there is a lack of legal precedent as to whether or not AI can be classified as an author, a 161st [2]Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended ‘revisiting of IPR legislations and implementing a strong IPR framework’ in order to ‘extract benefits from AI’ [3]

As AI technology continues to evolve, it is likely that legal frameworks and international discussions will continue to shape the treatment of AI-generated works, including their eligibility for IP protection. It is opportune to conclude that Indian authorities should work in tandem with these agencies for meaningful resolution.


Adv. Malavika K

[1] Jai Vignesh K, AI Generated Artworks and Copyright.

[2] Additional Reading. Section 12 of India’s recent Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023.

[3] Anil Kapoor v. Simply Life India

This blog is for information only and should not be treated as an opinion in the matter.

Image generated by DALL-E – AI Generated
By |2024-02-05T14:20:14+00:00February 5th, 2024|IP Unplugged|0 Comments

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