Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


AI, copyrighted works, creative AI


Consider the following fact pattern.

Alex paints some original works on canvas and posts photos of them online. Becca downloads those images and uses them to train an AI (training configures the AI’s model parameters to useful values). Becca posts the resulting trained parameter values on her website under a license that reserves to Becca the right to use the parameters commercially. Cory uses those parameter values in a program that is designed to produce artwork. Cory clicks create and the program produces a work. This work is new to Cory, but it looks a lot like one of Alex’s original canvas images. Cory sells the work. Advise Cory about their potential copyright liability to Alex (for the substantially similar work that the program produced and that Cory subsequently sold) and to Becca (for taking Becca’s parameters and using them commercially, contrary to the license).

Cory clicks create again. The program produces another work, this time quite different from any of Alex’s original paintings. Cory shares new work on Instagram. Danny copies this image from Cory’s Instagram feed and sells a bunch of postcards that feature that image. Advise Danny about their copyright liability to Cory.