Spain: Can AI creations be protected by intellectual property?

published on 14 September 2023 | reading time approx. 2 minutes
In the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), rapid technological advancement has led to the creation of artistic, literary, and musical works generated by these systems. This has raised important legal and ethical questions about the intellectual property rights associated with these works. 



AI has demonstrated an amazing ability to generate creative works, from paintings, writings or music to computer programs or software. AI systems can learn from multiple amounts of data and produce original content. In fact, in many cases, it is indistinguishable from that created by humans. However, as these creations are generated by machines, crucial questions arise:


Who should be the copyright holder of these works?

In general, intellectual property law focuses on the protection of works created by human beings. Thus, intellectual property would be reserved for the protection of creations of the spirit in which the author's personality is embodied. These would be unique creations and not produced industrially or in series.

In most countries, copyrights are automatically granted to the natural persons who create them. This has led to difficulties in applying existing legal frameworks to AI-generated creations.

One of the most debated points is whether AI can be recognized as a legitimate author of a work. Some argue that AI is simply a tool used by humans. Therefore, copyright should rest with the programmers or owners of the AI.

How is the legislation involving artificial intelligence?

In Spain, Article 5 of the Intellectual Property Act establishes that the author is the natural person who creates a literary, artistic, or scientific work. However, legal entities may benefit from the protection granted by this Law to the author in the cases expressly provided for therein.

The resolution of the European Parliament on 20 October 2020, on intellectual property rights for the development of technologies related to artificial intelligence states, in its point 15, that:

"Works produced autonomously by artificial agents and robots should not be eligible for copyright protection, in order to respect the principle of originality, which is linked to a natural person".

However, in certain situations, AI can function as an additional tool for the author, enriching his creativity through appropriate instructions.

Ultimately, the debate over intellectual property rights in AI works is complex and constantly evolving. With technological advancement, balanced legal and ethical solutions are required that recognize the creativity of AI and human rights in its development.

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