Unravelling the Limitations of Indian Copyright Law in Tackling Generative AI Challenges: An In-depth Analysis

The explosive rise of technology and AI has completely transformed the creative landscape, leaving behind a trail of innovation and fresh possibilities. Specifically, generative AI, a branch of AI that focuses on creating original and novel content, has gained significant traction in the Indian context. This article aims to illustrate the shortcomings of Indian copyright law in dealing effectively with generative AI. By understanding the significance of copyright law in regulating AI usage and its historical background, we can delve into the intricacies of Indian copyright law and its implications within the realm of generative AI. – A guest post of Ashutosh Kumar.

I. Understanding Indian Copyright Law

  • Definition and historical background of Indian copyright law

Indian copyright law refers to a comprehensive set of legal provisions protecting original authorship works. Rooted in the Copyright Act of 1957, Indian copyright law has undergone several amendments and updates to keep pace with technological advancements. The primary objective of this law is to encourage creativity by providing exclusive rights to creators and ensuring adequate protection against infringement.

  • Rights and protection offered under Indian copyright law

Indian copyright law bestows certain exclusive rights upon creators, including the rights of reproduction, adaptation, distribution, public performance, and communication to the public. These rights empower authors and artists to exercise control over their creations, allowing them to decide how their works should be utilized and disseminated. Additionally, Indian copyright law protects both published and unpublished works, offering a comprehensive umbrella of protection.

II. Generative AI: A Brief Exploration

Generative AI, which epitomizes the amalgamation of machine learning and creativity, involves the creation of original content by machines. Leveraging algorithms and training models on massive datasets, generative AI systems possess the ability to produce art, music, and literature that closely resembles human-created works. Unlike other AI applications that rely on predefined input-output patterns, generative AI is driven by its capacity to generate new and autonomous output, making it a potent tool for innovation and creativity.

III. Copyright Infringement in the Context of Generative AI

  • How generative AI can potentially violate copyright laws

While generative AI holds immense promise, its potential to breach copyright laws cannot be ignored. The autonomous nature of generative AI creates a risk of unintentional or deliberate infringement when producing works that bear similarity to existing copyrighted content. The algorithms and training data utilized by generative AI systems may infringe upon the exclusive rights of original creators, thereby necessitating a critical examination of Indian copyright law’s effectiveness in addressing generative AI infringement.

  • Analysis of Indian copyright law’s effectiveness in addressing generative AI infringement

Indian copyright law primarily focuses on protecting tangible forms of expression and does not explicitly account for works generated by AI systems. Consequently, the current legal framework may need help adequately address the nuanced challenges of generative AI. The absence of specific provisions and guidelines tailored to generative AI inhibits the law’s efficacy in adequately protecting original creators and addressing potential infringement concerns.

IV. Role of Transformative Use Doctrine

  • Examining the concept of transformative use in copyright laws

The transformative use doctrine is a vital concept in copyright laws that allows the use of copyrighted material in transformative ways beyond mere replication. It enables the creation of new works that add significant value, imparting a fresh perspective to the original content. Such transformative use often serves the public interest by fostering creativity and innovation while acting as a defense against copyright infringement allegations.

  • Application of transformative use doctrine in the Indian legal landscape

Indian copyright law lacks explicit provisions regarding transformative use, making it susceptible to interpretational challenges. The absence of clear guidelines on the acceptable scope and extent of transformative use in generative AI creates uncertainty for creators and users alike. To effectively address generative AI challenges, Indian copyright law would benefit from incorporating a well-defined framework for transformative use, striking a balance between protecting original creators and promoting innovation.

V. Derivative Works and Attribution Challenges

  • Understanding derivative works and their connection to generative AI

Derivative works are creations that are based on pre-existing copyrighted material. They involve the original work’s transformation, adaptation, or alteration, resulting in a new output that retains traces of the underlying source. With generative AI’s ability to generate content similar to existing works, the question of whether generative AI creations should be considered derivative works arises, posing significant attribution challenges.

  • Assessment of Indian copyright law’s approach to attribution and derivative works

Indian copyright law prescribes the obligation to attribute the original creator when using or distributing copyrighted works. However, the applicability of this requirement becomes ambiguous in the context of generative AI, where the AI system itself is responsible for the creation. This raises complex questions about attribution and the extent to which AI-generated works deserve recognition. Indian copyright law must grapple with these challenges and clarify attribution requirements for generative AI creations.

VI. Fair Use and Fair Dealing in the Indian Scenario

  • Explanation of fair use and fair dealing provisions in Indian copyright law

Fair use and fair dealing provisions in Indian copyright law provide exceptions to copyright infringement for certain purposes, such as criticism, review, research, education, or news reporting. These provisions strike a balance between protecting the rights of creators and ensuring the availability of copyrighted material for socially valuable purposes, fostering the advancement of knowledge and creativity.

  • Critique of lacking clarity on fair use exceptions for generative AI

While fair use and fair dealing provisions exist in Indian copyright law, their application to generative AI remains unclear. The absence of specific guidelines or jurisprudence related to fair use in the context of generative AI hampers the law’s effectiveness in addressing potential infringement concerns. As generative AI becomes more prevalent, Indian copyright law should allow clear and predictable exceptions to fair use that will promote innovation and protect the rights of original creators.

VII. Moral Rights and AI-generated Art

  • Overview of moral rights and their relevance to AI-generated art

Moral rights are a distinct aspect of copyright law that goes beyond economic rights and recognizes the non-economic interests of creators. They grant creators the authority to be recognized as the author of their work and control its integrity and reputation. In the context of AI-generated art, questions arise regarding the extent to which creators can exercise moral rights when the creative process involves limited human intervention.

  • Analyzing how Indian copyright law addresses moral rights in the context of generative AI

Indian copyright law acknowledges moral rights by granting creators the right to claim authorship and prevent any distortion or modification of their work. However, applying moral rights becomes complicated in generative AI, where the role of human creators is diminished. Indian copyright law should strive to strike a balance between recognizing the moral rights of creators and acknowledging the collaborative nature of generative AI.

VIII. Liability and Responsibility of AI Creators

  • Examination of liability and responsibility frameworks for AI creators

The emergence of generative AI raises questions regarding the liability and responsibility of AI creators for the work generated by their systems. Determining the accountability of AI creators in a legal framework becomes crucial, especially when their creations result in copyright infringement or other legal violations.

  • Evaluation of Indian copyright law’s stance on AI creator accountability

It is crucial to note that under Indian copyright law, the creator is automatically recognized as the rightful owner of the copyright unless there is a pre-existing contractual agreement. However, in the context of generative AI, the role of AI creators becomes convoluted due to the autonomous nature of the technology. To effectively address the challenges of generative AI, Indian copyright law should adopt a nuanced approach that establishes clearer liability and responsibility frameworks for AI creators.

IX. Challenges of Detecting Copyright Infringement by AI

  • Identifying challenges in detecting copyright infringement by AI systems

Detecting copyright infringement in the realm of generative AI presents unique challenges. Unlike human creators who can rely on their knowledge and experiences, AI systems lack subjective intent and the ability to evaluate the legality of their creations. Identifying instances of copyright infringement becomes complex when it involves AI-generated content resembling existing copyrighted works.

  • Discussing limitations of Indian copyright law in addressing AI detection issues

Indian copyright law faces limitations in effectively addressing copyright infringement detection issues pertaining to generative AI. Specific provisions or guidelines on detecting AI-generated infringement are necessary for the law’s ability to adapt to evolving technological advancements. Holistic reform and the incorporation of comprehensive detection mechanisms are necessary to bridge this gap in the Indian copyright law framework.

X. Licensing and Royalties in an AI-driven Environment

  • Importance of licensing and royalties in the context of generative AI

The licensing and royalties framework is essential in facilitating the fair usage of copyrighted content. In the context of generative AI, where AI systems can autonomously create content resembling existing copyrighted works, establishing a robust licensing mechanism becomes imperative to ensure fair compensation for original creators.

  • Critically assessing Indian copyright law’s framework for AI-based licensing.

Indian copyright law provides for licensing copyrighted works, ensuring a structured framework for exchanging rights and royalties. However, the current framework needs to include explicit provisions tailored to address the licensing challenges posed by generative AI. Indian copyright law should incorporate provisions that account for the autonomous nature of generative AI and ensure fair compensation for creators while promoting innovation.

XI. International Perspectives on AI and Copyright Law

  • Comparative analysis of international copyright laws concerning generative AI

A comparative analysis of international copyright laws provides valuable insights into their approaches to addressing the challenges posed by generative AI. Understanding the experiences of different jurisdictions can help formulate effective policies and regulations that balance encouraging innovation and safeguarding copyright interests.

  • Insights from global approaches to adopting AI-specific copyright regulations

Several countries have introduced or proposed AI-specific copyright regulations to tackle the unique challenges posed by generative AI. These regulations guide issues such as copyrightability, liability, and attribution, ensuring copyright frameworks remain relevant and effective despite technological advancements. Indian copyright law can draw inspiration from these global approaches to enhance and reshape its framework concerning generative AI.

XII. Case Studies: Copyright Litigation and Generative AI

  • Examining notable copyright infringement cases involving generative AI in India

Analyzing copyright litigation involving generative AI in India sheds light on how Indian courts have approached these complex cases. Court decisions, precedents, and legal interpretations significantly impact the effectiveness of copyright law in regulating generative AI and protecting the rights of original creators.

  • Analysis of court decisions to understand the effectiveness of Indian copyright law

By analyzing court decisions, we can gain insights into the effectiveness of Indian copyright law in tackling copyright infringement involving generative AI. The interpretation of existing laws and the resulting judicial precedents influence the legal landscape. A comprehensive understanding of these court decisions helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of Indian copyright law in dealing with generative AI challenges.

XIII. Policy Recommendations to Address Generative AI Challenges

  • Suggesting policy measures to enhance Indian copyright law for generative AI

With the rise of generative AI, Indian copyright law has encountered new challenges that innovative policies need to address. In light of the unique traits of generative AI, policymakers must take bold steps and implement policies that can effectively regulate this technology and ensure the protection of intellectual property rights. These measures should balance protecting original creators’ rights, promoting innovation, and fostering a thriving AI ecosystem.

  • Incorporating perspectives from legal experts, policymakers, and stakeholders

Policy recommendations should be based on thorough consultations with legal experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from diverse sectors. By incorporating multiple perspectives, including those of technology experts, artists, copyright advocates, and the AI community, policymakers can arrive at inclusive, forward-thinking solutions that enhance Indian copyright law’s efficacy in tackling generative AI challenges.

XIV. Future Implications and Technological Advancements

  • Discussing potential future developments in generative AI and copyright law

As generative AI continues to evolve, it is essential to anticipate the future implications and technological advancements it may bring. Considering the dynamic nature of technology, policymakers, and legal experts should proactively assess and adapt copyright laws to effectively address forthcoming challenges.

  • Exploration of challenges and adaptations needed as technology evolves

With the rapid pace of technological advancements, examining the challenges that may arise in regulating generative AI becomes crucial. As a dynamic field, copyright law should proactively adapt to technological changes by incorporating flexibility and mechanisms to address future developments in the AI landscape.

XV. Conclusion

Although Indian copyright law protects the rights of creators in a significant way, it has limitations when it comes to regulating generative AI. To effectively address the intricacies of generative AI, Indian copyright law needs comprehensive reform and inclusion of provisions designed specifically for this emerging technology. By revisiting and reforming copyright laws, India can create a robust legal framework that balances protecting original creators’ rights with promoting innovation in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.



Ashutosh Kumar is a dedicated third-year law student whose unwavering passion for Intellectual Property law has propelled him into the world of copyright analysis. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Laws degree at the esteemed University School of Law and Legal Studies in New Delhi, Ashutosh’s profound interest in copyright law is reflected in his innovative and dynamic approach to resolving copyright issues. His approach is characterized by an exceptional balance of academic rigour and a deep enthusiasm for legal scholarship, which enables him to offer unique solutions to complex legal problems.