U.K Study Tour - Should AI-generated artwork count as copyrightable works?

This study tour has a great balance between academic study and the opportunity to explore and travel. Over the weekend we had the freedom to explore London and its surroundings. We started the weekend off with a trip to the Portobello Markets near the Instagram famous Notting Hill.

The huge variety of food and vintage clothing shops had us all entertained for the morning. It was great to see the famous colourful houses before we went to the legendary Abbey Road. Here, we recreated the iconic Beatles photo from their Abbey Road album. Although the locals weren’t very impressed with us holding up the traffic, it was a great experience to tick off our bucket lists.

We then went for a walk around Lord’s Cricket Ground which was unfortunately closed for renovations. To round off our English experience, we went to see a football game between Millwall and West Brom. Despite the gloomy weather from Storm Ciara, there was a great atmosphere with the fans chanting and screaming. We finished off the weekend with a group dinner at Circle and Slice, a pizza restaurant in Whitechapel, just down the road from our hotel. It was great to catch up with the whole group after a weekend of gallivanting around London.

The second week of our UK study tour began with a recap group meeting at the CCLS to discuss how our classes had been going so far. One by one, we were asked to explain the legal systems covered in our lectures over the past week. As our group is separated into two academic streams (banking/finance and international business), we discussed a wide range of topics from tax compliance policy in emerging foreign economies to the legal ramifications of salvaging vessels in wet shipping law.

Professor Symes then invited us to share some of the more confusing aspects of our lectures. A common point of confusion in the group appeared to be just exactly how European Union directives influence and affect domestic UK legislation, and the effect Brexit will have on this. Luckily, we will be having a session later in the week with CCLS Professor Theodora Christou explaining just how EU law works within the UK legal framework.

In the afternoon, Annabelle and I both attended Intellectual Property in the Creative Industries with Professor Noam Shemtov. This week’s lecture topic covered Artificial Intelligence and the issue it raises concerning authorship, creation, patent and copyright in intellectual property. We drew on numerous cases regarding AI systems creating paintings, poems and music. Evidently, it is an area of the law that is still developing and poses several questions; Should AI-generated artwork count as copyrightable works? Does copyright law need a notion of some kind of authorship for AI, or should AI be granted legal personhood? Or is AI merely an enabling tool, like a camera for a human creator? The answers to the questions vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction, however, Professor Shemtov suggested perhaps the Japanese approach in the appropriate path to follow. The Japan Times reports that ‘legislative changes are thought necessary to protect AI-created works from unauthorised use, and to enable the developer of the AI system to be fairly compensated”. We look forward to looking further into Australian intellectual property law’s approach to artificial intelligence on our return to Adelaide.

By Meaghan Prefontaine and Annabelle Jones




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