What is known about the copyright of works of AI in cinema

Barbashyn Law Team Sergiy Barbashyn Attorney at law, managing partner, Anastasia Vladieva lawyer at Barbashyn Law Firm
8 November, 2023 6 min for reading
8 November, 2023 6 min for reading

Artificial intelligence in cinema – who owns the film?

Our world is rapidly developing thanks to technological breakthroughs, and artificial intelligence is of the last importance in this. Artificial intelligence makes our daily lives easier and increases productivity in many industries, but it also creates new challenges and questions. Among such challenges are how to legitimately use artificial intelligence in information technologies, data protection, ownership, and copyright issues.

One of the industries that has felt the influence of modernity is the film and music video industry. Artificial intelligence can generate visual and sound effects, enhance images, and change actors’ voices and appearances. One of the most vivid examples is the last movie, “Indiana Jones,” where the actors look younger with the help of technology.

Let’s consider possible scenarios and prospects for solving the following questions: Can copyright protect works created by artificial intelligence? Who owns the copyright for such works, and how to determine the author?

Does artificial intelligence protected by copyright create works?

In many jurisdictions, the copyright issue in works created by artificial intelligence remains unresolved or needs to be updated. However, as a general rule, for a work to be protected by copyright, “significant” human participation in its creation is required.
Thus, in the USA, the EU, and many other countries, copyright laws do not protect works created exclusively by artificial intelligence. However, if a person can demonstrate significant human involvement in the completed work, it will likely be protected by copyright.

However, the question arises: what is considered “significant human participation”? Will software tuning and training the algorithm or editing the results be enough to obtain copyright protection?

The US Copyright Office partly answered this question by registering the comic “Zarya of the Dawn,” which contained illustrations created by artificial intelligence. In September 2022, the Bureau reported the copyright for the entire comic. However, in February 2023, the Bureau changed its mind. It rejected Kashtanova’s application to the extent that it covered comic book images (as opposed to text) because the AI-generated portions of the work lacked the “human authorship” required for copyright protection in the USA.
In the Kashtanova case, the Bureau specifically excluded all illustrations created by artificial intelligence because their “text prompts” were insufficient to qualify as “significant human involvement” in their creation.

However, some countries separate authorship and creativity and grant protection to works created by artificial intelligence. Such countries include Great Britain. Thus, the Law on Copyright, Designs, and Patents provides that works created by a computer can be protected by copyright. Such works are covered for 50 years from the end of the calendar year they were made, and the author is recognized as “the person who took the steps necessary to create the work.”

Who owns the copyright for works created by artificial intelligence?

Usually, the copyright of works belongs to the people who create those works. But when it comes to works created by artificial intelligence, the situation becomes more complicated. Artificial intelligence technology uses algorithms and data to generate creative materials, and in this process there is no role for human creativity in the usual sense. Therefore, there are three key points of view on copyright ownership of such works. Let’s consider this issue using the example of the technology of rejuvenating actors in cinema:

1. The author is the person who created the artificial intelligence system through development and training.
🔹 From the point of view of this approach, the copyright of works created by artificial intelligence belongs to the team of engineers, programmers and artists who create programs for visual rejuvenation. They create algorithms, train artificial intelligence and provide the ability to create works, so they are considered authors.

2. An author is a person who sets a task for artificial intelligence
🔹 In this case, the artificial intelligence functions as a tool that performs tasks according to instructions, and the real creator is the person who defines the parameters and concept of the image. In this way, artificial intelligence technology is similar to software such as photoshop, which is used to process photos, and the author is the photographer who determines how to edit the image.

3. Copyright belongs jointly to AI developers and users.
🔹 This option paves the way for a fairer and more balanced approach to copyright. This allows to recognize the contribution of all participants in the creative process, ensuring transparency and fairness.
Consider the example of a film where an actor provides his image and voice, and artificial intelligence is used to rejuvenate the face. In this case, the actor makes his creative contribution by defining the acting style and facial expression, while the artificial intelligence developers provide the technical implementation of the rejuvenation. In turn, film studios and producers who finance and organize projects can also claim copyright for the results of work with artificial intelligence technology.

However, it is worth noting that decisions regarding copyrights for works created by artificial intelligence may vary depending on the terms of agreements, contracts and laws of the country. Usually, in large film studios, the copyrights most often belong to the studio or the producers. However, in the future, changes in the legislation are possible, which will take into account the specifics of the use of artificial intelligence technologies.


In today’s world, the legal status of copyrights for works created by artificial intelligence remains a complex question without an unequivocal answer. Different countries have their own approaches to this issue, and generally accepted international standards do not yet exist. However, the future resolution of this issue will have a significant impact on many areas, including the film industry.

Given the rapid development of technology, it is important to find a balance between recognizing the contributions of artificial intelligence developers and protecting creative rights.
It is worth consciously approaching the analysis of the contributions of project participants and the creation process in general. Currently, it is important not only to ensure the proper transfer of IP rights, but also to determine the legal status of that part of the work generated by technologies. This approach will help avoid misunderstandings in property rights and ensure the fulfillment of contractual and other obligations.


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