Computer Generated Works

There’s an interesting post on Sulliman’s site on the subsistence of copyright in computer generated works “Les creations assistees par ordinateur sont elles protegeables?” He discusses some recent French case law and academic discussion, particularly on whether computer generated works are original.

In Express Newspapers plc v Liverpool Daily Post & Echo [1985] FSR 306, an application for an interim injunction wherapplicantlicant had to satisfy the judge that it could win, the applications judge saw no difficulty in the work in question being computer generated. He regarded the computer as a tool in much the same way as a pen is a tool. He regarded the argument that the computer was the author as “as unrealistic as it would be to suggest that, if you write with a pen, it is the pen that is the author of the work rather than the person who drives the pen.”

Shortly afterwards, Parliament provided in s.9 (3) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988:

“In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken.”

I am surprised there has not been an Express Newspapers case before the French courts before now.

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About Jane Lambert

I am a barrister specializing in intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment and competition law. I specialize in helping SME (small and medium enterprises) protect and exploit their investment in brands, design, technology and the arts. SME require intellectual property (legal protection for their intellectual assets) at least as much as big business but their limited means restrict the way they can use it. Looking after such clients wisely requires skills and knowledge which have taken me years to learn.
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One Response to Computer Generated Works

  1. Thank you for reacting to my post.To answer your question, well the idea of comparing a computer to a pen has been developped by reputed authors in France but in a different analyse. Indeed, in its excellent book “Le droit de l’informatique” (1985) the well known Professor Andre Lucas compared the use of a computer to a painting brush used by a painter. He pointed that things are different in both cases : the painting brush is passive as it is only following the actions of the painter. Things are not as simple with a computer coz the computer do not always follow the actions of its user but often act by itself.And in 1986, in the ATARI and WILLIAM case about computer videogames, judges considered that a creation could arise automatically from a computer program and give rise to an independant protection than the one of its generating program.The question however remains, whether in France or in the uk : who is entitled to enjoy those rights? the user or the software creator?According to the british law u mentionned (“the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken”), it sounds to me that this person can either b the user or the software creaotor depending on the case. Unless otherwise?Kind regardsSulliman

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