COPYRIGHT IN AI-GENERATED WORKS
AI platforms such as ChatGPT have become very popular lately, raising certain concerns about related intellectual property rights, especially regarding ownership of copyright vesting in works created with the assistance of AI technology.
In Haupt t/a Softcopy v. Brewers Marketing Intelligence (Pty) Ltd (2006) [http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZASCA/2006/40.html], the Supreme Court of Appeal made a distinction between computer-generated and computer-assisted literary works, stating that a literary work is computer-generated only if it is created by a computer without human input. If there is human involvement, the literary work is considered computer-assisted. This distinction is important because South African legislation assigns copyright ownership differently depending on whether a literary work is computer-generated, or computer-assisted.
Below is a breakdown of how each of these cases would apply according to South African legislation, read together with the Supreme Court case discussed above:
1. The author of a literary work that is computer-generated is the person by whom the necessary arrangements for its creation were undertaken.
2. The author of a literary work that is computer-assisted is the person who first makes or creates the work.
3. The author of a computer program vests in the person who exercised control over the making of the program.
In practice, it is important to review agreements based on copyright laws in different territories and update policies and procedures regularly to reflect technological changes. It is also worth noting that ownership defined by legislation can be overridden by agreement between the parties involved.