Generative AI and Sustainable Creativity

Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have resulted in systems, commonly referred to as generative AI, that can produce images, text and software that resemble human productions. These outputs upend established assumptions about authorship, originality and reward. As a result the livelihoods of creative people in Africa are threatened. Development through expansion of creative industries will be foreclosed. This challenges copyright law which is intended to reward human creativity. 

This brief discusses the copyright status of AI outputs that resemble and could substitute for human creations. This is a new phenomenon not previously dealt with by copyright law, which in almost every country is unclear on whether these outputs are protected by copyright. The brief explains why copyright shouldn’t extend to AI outputs.

Also see a companion brief on Clarifying Copyright to enable AI Research in Africa, which discusses whether the use of a copyright-protected text or an image in training an AI model infringes copyright in that text or image.

Suggested citation

Rens, A., Msipa, S., & Hlomani, H. (2023). Generative AI and sustainable creativity. Generative AI and Intellectual Property Brief no. 2. Research ICT Africa.