Copyright issues stemming from AIs being Content Creators

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Who owns the Copyright to a work? Is it a human or a concept? This article talks about the rising issues that may come the moment AIs (Artificial Intelligence) become the sole creator of an idea that ultimately goes into transforming the human society.

This topic is very much a funny one considering ideally it is usually a science fiction theme present in contemporary times, but with advancement in science and technology, we now live in a reality where we might want to consider it now; Artificial Intelligence (AI) rights.

These AIs, like a normal human, is created to be capable of performing tasks and exhibiting functions that basically should take human intelligence.

In essence, they are capable of analyzing data, act on processed data, predict trends and human character, make independent decisions to begin with as well as proffering solutions to complex problems.

Copyright issues stemming from AIs being Content Creators

It then brings to question, what happens when an AI or AIs in plural term, create concepts that on a normal day takes human intelligence to create. Will anyone have to lay claims to such rights considering Artificial Intelligence in present times have no independent rights? Or does its rights go to its own creator?

The answer rests on the latter with the creator of the AI owning whatever patents the creation gets to come up with using its intelligence.

But there stands a reasonable argument which can be taken into court and debated, and by every account, it does seem divisive by considerable margin. Why?

Copyright genuinely are meant to protect the works of its innovator; in this case it is a right accorded a human being to be able to grant privileges to third party for the reproduction or redistribution of their work.

Copyright issues stemming from AIs being Content Creators

This legal principle is applicable in every legal jurisdiction of the world including Nigeria which its own constitution states regarding Copyright Act of Section 2(1) that copyright protection is a privilege for a ‘qualified person’, which if defined is branded:

First and foremost, an individual who is a citizen of, or is domiciled in Nigeria; or a body or corporate organization (a company, a business name, or an incorporated trustee) incorporated by or under the laws of Nigeria.

This means the debate to protect the rights of the works created by an Artificial Intelligence cannot fall on the AI, which then brings the thought process that an AI is only a mirror reflection of its owner, to the forefront.

This ideology sees the owner of the Artificial Intelligence or in specific terms; its creator laying claims to the right of the Intelligence’s patents. It’s like say Mark Zuckerberg accorded rights to Facebook or Bill Gates to Microsoft. Their creations are a product of their intellect.

In essence, the AI’s creator has the legal rights to sue anyone who steals the idea created by his creation just as Bill Gates has a right to sue for the illegal use or reproduction of Microsoft.

Thus, Artificial Intelligence are treated as Computer Programmes, which in the Nigerian Copyright Act is regarded as a literary work, with a programmer accorded rights to his work.

The AIs are therefore classed as property and not person, thus whatever it births, belongs to its creator. Another concept that backs giving the rights to whatever patent an AI creates to its owner is in the Constitutional provision for co-ownership of works.

And according to Section 11 (6) a co-owner is a person with joint interest in the whole or with an interest in the various elements of a composite production.

Copyright issues stemming from AIs being Content Creators

Taking into consideration the constant evolution of the human society, as well as the fact that despite provisions made in constitution backing the creator of the AI laying claims to patents of his creation, there are still loopholes that could be taken advantage of in the future to begin a different narrative or debate.


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