The impact of artificial intelligence on copyright and patents – collectively known in English as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) – has been one of the most exciting topics of the past year 2020 among legal scholars and digital experts. EU institutions are also active in this area. For example, at the end of last year, the European Commission published a study entitled ‘Trends and Developments in Artificial Intelligence: Challenges to the IPR Framework’ on the challenges AI poses for the European intellectual property rights (IPR) framework.
In a multi-page case study, the study also outlines Retresco’s NLG solutions and in particular their areas of application in journalism. An example of this is the forward-looking cooperation project between the DFB, Sportplatz Media and Retresco (p. 61ff.): automated football match reports make it possible for players and fans of the approximately 25,000 DFB amateur clubs to experience their favourite sport. With over 70,000 articles generated per week, the project exemplifies the potential of creating stories from data.
AI solutions transform numerous disciplines in business, culture and art
The use of AI systems in the fields of culture, innovation and science has grown spectacularly in recent years and is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the future. AI systems are being used to create a wide variety of literary and artistic content, including songs, translations, poems, screenplays, novels, photographs, paintings, etc., and are also already penetrating deep into journalistic fields. Reporting automated by natural language generation – an application area in which Retresco is a pioneer – is revolutionising work in newsrooms and setting new standards for the journalism of the future.
Potential impact of AI on copyright
The study ‘Trends and Developments in Artificial Intelligence: Challenges to the IPR Framework’, published by the EU Commission and conducted by a research team from the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam and the Joint Institute for Innovation Policy (JIIP), examines in this sense whether and to what extent AI-based outputs are protected by European copyright or related rights. In the study, the term AI-supported outputs refers to all formats, products or artefacts created by or with the help of AI systems. Messages created by natural language generation would thus also fall under this term.
The study is based on the premise that AI systems have become increasingly sophisticated and autonomous, and will continue to improve their capabilities in the future. The study further assumes that fully autonomous creation or invention of works – be these texts, images or other artefacts – by AI does not yet exist and will not exist in the foreseeable future. Rather, AI systems are primarily tools in the hands of human operators.
Does the current European legal framework sufficiently cover the rapid developments in the field of AI?
In summary, the study comes to the – admittedly rather open – conclusion that the latest developments in the field of AI would not require or justify any immediate substantive changes to copyright and patent law in Europe. The existing concepts of copyright and patent law are – according to the study ‘Trends and Developments in Artificial Intelligence: Challenges to the IPR Framework’ – sufficiently abstract and flexible enough to cope with the current challenges posed by AI.
The fact of the matter is that the intellectual property rights to automatically generated works in the field of automated text creation are currently unresolved. According to some legal experts, the texts are not protected by copyright, since according to the current legal interpretation, only a human being can be the author of a work (personal creation). However, in view of the increasing complexity of the content, language and style of automatically generated texts, this position is debatable, at least in individual cases.
Retresco empowers companies to automatically generate high-quality texts based on data. As a pioneer in the field of AI-based language technologies, the Berlin-based tech company has been developing cross-industry solutions for the efficient and future-oriented automation of business processes since 2008.