Computer Generated Music: Who owns the copyright?
An interesting question if ever there was one, and I dared ask it at a BCS event on Algorithmic Musical Composition which was hosted by the SPA Specialist Group in London on Tuesday. Read on to find out the ‘answer’ if you dare.
First of all, I must to declare that you are reading this entirely at your own risk, and that I take no responsibility for your reaction to the answer. That said here goes….
The question was: ‘Who owns the copyright to computer generated music? Is it the music software vendor, the software user, or the software program itself? Simple enough question, and the answer provided by the presenter, David Harvey (CTO of Sibelius Software), was not that surprising either. Why the copyright belongs to the software user of course!
Many arguments are used in support of this position, for example, the makers of KOAN, (a music generation program) are said to have included DRM like features with which the user can control the use of their programs. Furthermore, because the software generates its music via user created rules the resulting work, (and copyright) should generally belong to them.
Now that’s all very well until you think about the possible ramifications if a computer program should ever pass the Turing test. In these days of online transactions, and perhaps moreso in future, how can you really prove that the ‘software user’ is entirely human. Also where does it state in copyright law that the author of a work must be human – or is it just assumed?
As ever, I would dearly love to get your thoughts and comments on the above questions.