It won’t be long before artificial intelligence is writing and creating films.
As impossible as it seems, it won’t be long before artificial intelligence is writing and creating films. As a lead up to this eventuality, here is a list of just some of the creative endeavors that AI has already accomplished:
• It is now a simple matter for AI to create new paintings after being shown a number of examples in a particular genre. For example, one AI computer was given hundreds of samples of 17th-century “Old Master” style paintings and was asked to create its own paintings. One of the paintings it came up with is titled “Portrait of Edmond De Belamy” and sold for a whopping $432,500 at a Christie’s auction.
• Another AI computer was fed hundreds of modern pop songs and came up with its own song named “Blue Jeans and Bloody Tears” complete with lyrics.
• After being shown videos of people dancing, one AI computer came up with its own dance moves for a robot.
• One AI computer was shown images of flowers and dinosaurs and managed to create its own images of dinosaurs composed of flowers.
• One AI computer was fed a number of rap songs and proceeded to create its own original rap song.
• A computer named “Shelley” (in honor of the author of Frankenstein) was fed 140,000 horror stories and then proceeded to create even more chilling ones.
• One AI computer was given all the novels that Game of Thrones was based on and then proceeded to write five new chapters continuing the plot line.
Thus, AI can write entire stories, create visual images, and create music, and it will not be long before these abilities are combined with entire movies being created by AI, perhaps even emulating existing actors or creating new “stars” for a franchise. Want a horror movie or a comedy? No problem. Just upload all the most successful films in that genre, and let AI create the next one.
This brave new world is coming, and when it does it will bring a brave new world of legal issues, just as every new technology does. One immediate issue is who is the “author” of a film created by AI under the U.S. Copyright Act.
Just last month, the U.S. Patent Office issued a decision declining to recognize an AI computer as the “inventor” of a patent, so it is almost a certainty that the U.S. Copyright Office will take the same approach. Hopefully a court won’t analogize an AI-created film to a prior case that held that a monkey could not be the “author” of a selfie photograph, resulting in the photo being in the public domain. The most likely result is that some person (including an entity) will be identified as the “author” of the work under the Copyright Act. Here are some possible choices, assuming each person is different:
The person that wrote the software.
The person that owns the computer.
The person that uploaded the underlying material that the AI computer based its work on.
The person that acquired the resulting work.
A similar issue will be who to sue by anyone aggrieved by the resulting work, such as for copyright infringement, right of publicity, slander, or defamation. Once again, it may not be clear which of the four alternatives listed above is the proper defendant.
And the claims themselves will raise novel issues. For example, if an AI computer creates a new work by combining elements from uploaded information, then the uploaded information has been copied to some extent, giving rise to a copyright infringement claim. The classic distinction has been between copying the “expression” from another work (not allowed) versus copying the “idea” of another work (allowed), but can AI computers understand an “idea”?
A similar issue will be right of publicity lawsuits filed by celebrities that believe that the characters created by AI resemble them. For example, if AI creates a character that is a composite of Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, can neither sue? Can both?
And how will the guilds react to this? If a film company that has signed on to the WGA and DGA agreements uses AI to create a film, will the guilds claim that the film company has used a non-WGA or DGA writer or director, in breach of the agreements? In time, those agreements will be amended to expressly address this issue.
In the not-to-distant future, coming to a theater near you will be a film that is entirely created by AI, and following in its wake will be a number of novel legal issues.