AI Generated Art: Copyright Critique

News about Beethoven’s unfinished Tenth Symphony being written by a computer; the debut of the robot-composer who writes in the style of Bach; and the computerized protégé of the Master of Light and Shadow “New Rembrandt.” The artificial intelligence revolution has entered the sphere of art and music, a creative domain. In 2018, when the AI-generated portrait Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy (Belamy Portrait) sold for $432,500, it attracted significant attention from the art community. Developers of the Belamy Portrait have created AI-art generation algorithms using Generative Adversarial Network framework in machine learning. Critics have taken issue with the originality of the AI generated artwork on grounds that the computer codes written to produce the images are borrowed. In fact, the creators of the Belamy Portrait—a French art collective called “Obvious”—acknowledged that the algorithm was a modified version of a code first developed by Robbie Barrat (a 19-year-old artist and programmer) who had openly shared his “modified DCGAN algorithm” on github. These concerns have raised questions about how copyright protection would apply in the context of AI-generated art. 

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