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AI and Creativity: Should Copyright Make Room for Robot Authors?

  • April 13, 2022
  • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
  • Virtual [Zoom]


On February 14th, the Review Board of the U.S. Copyright Office issued its final decision refusing to register A Recent Entrance to Paradise, an image generated entirely by an AI algorithm.  The claimant, Dr. Stephen Thaler, asserted that he is the copyright owner by virtue of his ownership of the machine that created it.  The Copyright Office asserted that the image is not “a work of authorship” within the meaning of the Copyright Act because “a century of copyright jurisprudence” requires human authorship for copyright protection in the United States.

A Recent Entrance to Paradise by The Creativity Machine

The issue of copyright protection for machine-authored works raises fascinating legal and policy questions.  Would allowing copyright to subsist be consistent with the Constitutional basis for copyright?  Can a human and machine be joint authors?  If a machine can be an author, how should we identify the person that should be the copyright owner?  What are the impacts on people who create art, music, books or films the old-fashioned way?  What are the effects on incentives to invest in AI technologies in the creative industries, and to build businesses distributing and protecting machine-generated works?  Who should be liable if a machine-generated work is defamatory or infringes another’s rights?  And what do approaches in other countries have to teach us about all of the above?

Join us for a provocative discussion about these issues with Professor Ryan Abbott, who currently represents Dr. Thaler in seeking copyright protection for A Recent Entrance to Paradise.  Professor Abbott, MD, JD, MTOM, PhD, is partner at Brown, Neri, Smith & Khan, LLP, a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS, Inc., Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey School of Law, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is the author of The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press. He has published widely on issues associated with life sciences and intellectual property in leading legal, medical, and scientific books and journals, and his research has been featured prominently in the popular press including in The Times, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and other media outlets involving time. Professor Abbott has worked as an expert for, among others, the United Kingdom Parliament, the European Commission, the World Health Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. He is a licensed physician and patent attorney in the United States, and a solicitor advocate in England and Wales. Managing Intellectual Property magazine named him as one of the fifty most influential people in intellectual property in 2019 and again in 2021.

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