22 March 2024

Allen & Gledhill Partner Dr Stanley Lai, SC, Senior Associate David Lim, and Associates Linda Shi and Justin Tay contributed an article titled “Legal implications - Beijing Internet Court grants copyright protection to AI-generated artwork” to Bits & Bytes, a monthly online bulletin hosted on the website of the Centre for Technology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the Law (TRAIL) at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.

Given the emergence of generative artificial intelligence (“AI”) as a staple in the toolkit of a modern-day creator, legal systems worldwide have found themselves grappling with the issue of whether copyright subsists in AI-generated works at an ever-increasingly frenetic pace. While many jurisdictions have either determined that an AI-generated artwork is not subject to copyright, or have held that only works authored by a natural person (i.e. a human being) are deserving of copyright protection, recent developments in China appear to have taken a contrarian step in the opposite direction.

This article summarises the decision of the Beijing Internet Court in Li v Liu and explores how and why it reached a different conclusion from the United States Copyright Office’s decision in Zarya of the Dawn, given a similar set of facts. The article also briefly explores the implications of Li v Liu and Zarya of the Dawn on copyright in AI-generated content going forward.