The 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals on April 23rd has ruled that only humans can claim copyright infringements. The infringement lawsuit filed by PETA was then dismissed as the Court honored the ruling issued by a lower court on the case of David Slater, a wildlife photographer. The ruling stated that Slater is not in any way under any obligation of sharing profits to Naruto, the famous selfie monkey.
The United States Copyright Office up to now maintains that entities considered to be “non-human” such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), cannot claim infringement of property rights.
However, that’s not the case in the European Union as they are now looking into the possibility of creating specific personhood for non-human entities like AI and robots. They’re planning to do it by creating a separate category for such entities so that the existing laws on intellectual property would not be touched. If this effort succeeds, we’re soon going to witness robots being granted intellectual property rights ahead of animals,
Monkeys like Naruto can take selfies, elephants can do painting and there are robots that can write their own novels. But even with these abilities exhibited by such creatures, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals maintains that no infringement on intellectual property claims can be granted to them.
In the dismissal of the infringement lawsuit filed by PETA for the selfie-snapping monkey Naruto, the Court decided to follow a ruling issued by a lower court that intellectual property rights can only be claimed by humans. Since Naruto took selfies using David Slater’s camera, the human entity that can claim ownership for the photographs is Slater himself. It then continued that the beneficiary of financial proceeds and as well as the copyright was Mr. Slater and not Naruto.
The ruling stirred fear among experts saying that it can turn into a precedent in the case of how Artificial Intelligence being granted intellectual property rights could end up in the same fate as that of Naruto. The United States Copyright Office after the original trial back in 2014 has made it clear through an update of the compendium on what things can be registered for copyright.
The updated list included any work made by machines like computers which did not require any human intervention into the items that are not eligible for copyright. According to expert John Frank Weaver, failure to grant copyright to what creative AI and robots produce is like undermining the value of intelligence. If we don’t recognize the work of complexity produced by AI, we are actually dis-incentivizing it. It’s like we’re putting a hurdle to slow down our progress as humans.
The growing concerns on this aspect have driven some lobbyists in the European Union to really push the creation of a category that will grant robots some form of personhood. Others even suggested that a copyright can be granted by way of a human acting as a proxy where the robot is still recognized as the copyright owner but the benefits derived from it should go to the creators of such AI.
But if we really consider looking into the picture as a whole, it’s clear that more consideration in terms of granting rights is given to robots compared to animals. And the issue that hinders this right from being granted to animals are the existing laws on animal cruelty and abuse.
In the issue of giving copyright claim to robots, humans seem to be more interested in protecting the rights of its creators especially in the case of AI. We fail to imagine ourselves in the animal’s point of view maybe because there’s greater profit in robots than in animals. Robots can continually be improved while animals are limited in many aspects and they eventually die. We’re now at the point of