Copyright for robot artwork, a future decision

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Rembrandt-The-Child-and-the-Soap-Bubble-E40

A year ago when a group of scientists, developers, engineers and art historians from organisations including Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam revealed an artwork called ‘The Next Rembrandt’ made from collating data of 168,263 Rembrandt paintings, it was about a new way of creating a work of art.

This year instead of having data and computers creating a Rembrandt, we now have a robot actually painting works resembling old masters, but the question then arises: who owns the copyright of these works? We found out last year that copyright cannot be held on artworks made by non-human animals because copyright can only be held by legal persons, so that means robots don’t count.

“Earlier computer-generated works of art, machine learning software generates truly creative works without human input or intervention”, and again that could easily apply to a painting rabbit. The argument is that since copyright can also be held by companies because they too are ‘legal persons’, there should be some sort of copyright on the artwork that robots produce. On the other hand, suing a rabbit or a robots over copyright seems like an exercise in futility and madness.

Despite all the different laws, rules and distinctions in different parts of the world as well as the ginormous amount of computational power available to us today, one day we’ll have to decide if we want artworks created by intelligent computers to be protected by copyright.

(Links: phys.org, theguardian.com, Photo www.artmarketmonitor.com)

1 Comment »

  1. 168,263 artworks collated, is just a collage. Not quite art. Rembrandt, however, might consider 168,263 claims for copyright infringement…

    Comment by erik — June 28, 2017 @ 5:23 pm

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