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A fourth law of robotics? Copyright and the law and ethics of machine co-production

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Abstract

Jon Bing was not only a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence and law and the legal regulation of technology. He was also an accomplished author of fiction, with an oeuvre spanning from short stories and novels to theatre plays and even an opera. As reality catches up with the imagination of science fiction writers who have anticipated a world shared by humans and non-human intelligences of their creation, some of the copyright issues he has discussed in his academic capacity take on new resonance. How will we regulate copyright when robots are producers and consumers of art? This paper tries to give a sketch of the problem and hints at possible answers that are to a degree inspired by Bing’s academic and creative writing.

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Notes

  1. Here and at other places, we are very grateful to the suggestions by the referees.

  2. Extrapolating on existing ideas, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1954704/Robot-conducts-orchestra-for-first-time.html.

  3. See for example https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-apocalypse-trolls-attack-the-net-from-the-future-140928/, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  4. http://www.qentis.com, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  5. http://www.qentis.com/work/work-13/, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  6. http://www.artmarcovici.com/BIOGRAPHY, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  7. A rare attempt, by a group of performance artists, to implement the infinite monkey theorem in reality used six Sulawesi macaque monkeys The monkeys produced five pages consisting mainly of the letter “s” before they started destroying the typewriters with a stone and using it as toilet https://web.archive.org/web/20130120215600/ http://www.vivaria.net/experiments/notes/publication/NOTES_EN.pdf. In a paper dedicated to the memory of Jon Bing, one should point out that elephants would have been the superior choice, as they outperform monkeys when it comes to create art: http://www.elephantartgallery.com, last accessed 14 September 2015.

  8. http://copyright.gov/comp3/chap300/ch300-copyrightable-authorship.pdf, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  9. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/03/narrative_science_robot_journalists_customized_news_and_the_danger_to_civil_discourse_.single.html, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  10. http://towcenter.org/blog/automated-stories-using-algorithms-to-craft-news-content/, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  11. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/business/media/14link.html.

  12. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/this-post-was-written-by-a-human/, last accessed 21 January 2015.

  13. One of the functions of Pepper, the childminder-robot http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/pepper-aldebaran-softbank-personal-robot The Kindle2 has caused similar copyright questions: http://www.fastcompany.com/1160843/authors-guild-says-kindle-2s-text-speech-violates-copyright.

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Acknowledgments

Work on this paper was supported by the RCUK funded CREATE network, http://www.create.ac.uk.

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Correspondence to Burkhard Schafer.

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In Honour of Jon Bing.

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Schafer, B., Komuves, D., Zatarain, J.M.N. et al. A fourth law of robotics? Copyright and the law and ethics of machine co-production. Artif Intell Law 23, 217–240 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10506-015-9169-7

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