The landscape of literary creation is undergoing a paradigm shift with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). In the realm of Indian law, which currently safeguards expression rather than ideas, a pivotal question arises: if AI becomes the vehicle for generating ideas, who claims authorship and copyright protection?
The canvas of literature has always expanded to welcome diverse voices reflecting the dynamic challenges, values, and fears of society. Now, a new frontier emerges with AI stepping into the role of co-authorship. In 2021, technology journalist and novelist Vauhini Vara collaborated with an invite-only version of AI named ‘Playground,’ developed by OpenAI, to craft nine compelling short essays. Published in Believer magazine, these essays resonated with readers, sparking discussions about the evolving nature of authorship.
Vara’s collaboration with AI involved a unique process. She progressively provided more detailed information to AI, guiding its creative output. The AI, in turn, wove narratives that ranged from imaginative scenarios to authentic expressions of Vauhini Vara’s personal grief. This symbiotic relationship raises profound questions about authorship in the age of AI creativity.
Traditional copyright laws protect the “expression” of an idea rather than the idea itself. However, with AI as a collaborative tool, the line between human idea generation and AI expression becomes blurred. In India, the Copyright Act of 1957 designates the person causing the work to be created as the author. The challenge arises in identifying this “person” when AI is involved—is it the individual prompting the AI, the corporation owning the AI, the development team, or the AI itself?
The dichotomy of AI as an author forces us to consider its creative potential and the implications of relegating artistic creation to corporations. Does this shift limit artistic creation to a privileged few who can access and afford these technologies, raising concerns about the concentration of creative power?
Despite the intriguing possibilities, there are limitations to AI-generated content. Notably, AI models may reflect biases present in the data on which they were trained. While AI is intelligent, it remains an imitator lacking a unique perspective. The risk is not that AI will replace human creators but that it may prioritize certain types of literature due to ease, speed, and cost efficiency.
Currently, global Copyright Offices dismiss AI authorship claims, but the sophistication of these tools may challenge existing legal frameworks. As we venture into this enigmatic realm of AI and creativity, our laws need to adapt. Establishing new legal frameworks for AI-generated work is essential, with a focus on ensuring equitable rights for all contributors—a challenge yet to be fully addressed.