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  • Writer's pictureWinston Schultze


AI artwork features a robot inspired by human artists — it has a robotic arm that holds the art brush to bring new art to life through paintings that are not randomly generated images but rather based on algorithms (a set of rules & values) that the AI technology uses to soothingly create art. To do so, one or multiple concepts are given to the AI robot to generate a picture through a collection of brush strokes.

Based on criteria Mr Raghav Gupta, a machine learning engineer, created RAGHAV in 2019, an artificially intelligent graphics and art visualizer app. Recently, big news hit the IP market when for the first time ever in India, the copyright office has recognized this AI app as the co-author of a copyright-protected artistic work.

Ankit Sahni is an IP lawyer who owns the AI-based app, is the other author and is registered as the copyright owner. He commissioned the artwork “Suryast” (see painting below) to the copyright office of India. RAGHAV is trained in various art styles and used Vincent van Gogh’s painting ‘Starry Night’ and a photograph taken by Sahni as base datasets to create the copyrighted painting.

Gupta believes that AI-delivered output is often at the same level or standard as with, if not better than, human creations.

Mr Sahni believes that India might be the pioneer to have acknowledged AI-authorship in a copyrighted work. So, he filed two copyright applications for AI-generated paintings. The copyright office rejected the first application, which stated RAGHAV as the sole author. The second application, on which both Sahni and the AI were named as co-authors, was granted registration in November 2020.

The copyright law protects the work of the author in respect of its economic and moral rights. The advent of Artificial Intelligence generated work has led to a debate, whether an AI-generated work is subject to copyright protection. It has two parts to it;

● AI-generated work with human intervention

● AI-generated work with minimal or no human intervention.

Several jurisdictions worldwide do not yet recognize AI authorship under copyright law. In India, the provisions of the Copyright Act are unclear about who can claim authorship of an AI-created work that did not involve any human input.

Recently in an interview, Sahni admired the steps taken by the copyright office as bold and forward-looking.

He said, “While the existing legislation has its own set of limitations, the act of granting co-author status to an AI program indicates the beginning of an era of revolution that governments across the world will be working on.”

However, he anticipates that the registration may be challenged in court due to ambiguity in the legislation and jurisprudence.


The line between machine & artist becoming blurred day by day. While AI has proved superior at complex calculations & predictions, creativity seems to be the domain which machines can’t take over. However, as Artificial Intelligence begins to generate stunning visuals, profound poetry & transcendent music, the nature of art & the role of human creativity in the future start to feel uncertain. It really is impressive that AI is now capable of producing art that is aesthetically pleasing.

Creating works using artificial intelligence could have significant implications for copyright law. Traditionally, the copyright ownership in computer-generated works was not in question because the program was merely a tool that supported the creative process, very much like a pen and paper. But with the latest types of artificial intelligence, the computer program is no longer a tool; it actually makes many of the decisions involved in the creative process without human intervention.

Although acknowledging sole authorship of AI sounds revolutionary, but granting copyright to the person who made the operation of artificial intelligence possible seems to be the most sensible approach, with the UK’s model looking the most efficient. This approach is best summarized in UK copyright law, section 9(3) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA), which states:

“In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken.”

Such an approach will ensure that companies keep investing in the technology, safe in the knowledge that they will get a return on their investment. Of course, the next big debate will be whether computers should be given the status and rights of people, but that is a whole other story.

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