Who owns the IPR in AI generated artwork?

With the rise of DALL-E 2, Midjourney and others, AI powered tools are becoming more capable and impressive. 

Brands have started to use these tools for marketing campaigns such as BMW’s advertising campaign for the 8 Series Gran Coupé, where the car became a canvas for an AI-powered robot artist. Some fear these tools are replacing humans, but will the law protect the human touch and originality associated with the creation of artwork?

The UK’s position on copyright ownership for AI generated works remains ambiguous, stating that the owner is the person who makes the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work. This could be the owner of the AI technology platform, or the user of the platform for a specific purpose. Other jurisdictions such as the USA, Spain and Germany have clarified their respective positions stating that copyright can only exist and be owned by a human being in order to satisfy the originality requirements.

The UK Government decided against changing the law on computer generated works after it called for views on AI copyright and related rights. It was stated that more time is needed to evaluate the options, but currently, the UK protects computer-generated works which do not have a human creator.

Some platforms like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney state that the user is the person who owns the copyright. However, as computer-generated works have “no human author”, it appears that the concept of “joint authorship” does not apply to works co-created by humans and AI systems. As such, there remains to be ambiguity and uncertainty around using AI generated works for commercial purposes, and a risk-based approach must be taken when using the outputs generated until a clear decision is made on the topic.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.


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