Deciphering AI Ownership in South Africa: A Closer Look


In today’s world, artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, even in your smartphone’s recognition features. AI’s capabilities extend to creating art, music, and written content. These generative AI services raise a pressing question: who owns what the AI produces? Is it the one who instructs the AI, or the original creator of the AI?


Various AI companies differ in their stance on ownership. Some, like Midjourney, claim ownership of user-generated content, though subscribers may gain ownership. Others, like ChatGPT, lean toward users owning the AI’s outputs. Stable Diffusion grants users a license for the AI model but doesn’t claim rights over the generated content. Amidst this uncertainty, users must delve into terms and conditions for clarity.

Copyright and AI Ownership in US:

A federal judge has ruled that artwork created “solely” by artificial intelligence cannot be copyrighted because “human authorship is an essential part of a valid copyright claim”. The judge said further that “the act of human creation — and how to best encourage human individuals to engage in that creation, and thereby promote science and the useful arts — was thus central to American copyright from its very inception.”


For South African users of generative AI, the more detailed their input, the likelier they are to be deemed the authors of resulting copyrightable work. Techniques like prompt engineering can aid this. Understanding the legal context empowers creators to navigate AI ownership intricacies.

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