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Chinese court says AI-generated article has copyright protection

23 January 2020

A court in Shenzhen, China has decided that an article generated by artificial intelligence (AI) is entitled to copyright, according to the China News Service.

The proceedings arose after an online loan information website operated by Shanghai Yingxun Technology Co Ltd copied an AI-generated report on the financial and stock column on the website of tech company Tencent.

The report - which covered a slight rise of the Shanghai Index to 2691.93 points led by telecommunications, oil extraction and other sectors - was written by Dreamwriter which is an automated newswriting organism. The report was published on 20 August 2018 and the defendant's website carried it on the same day.

photo of Robot and briefcase

"According to the judgment pronounced by Shenzhen Nanshan District People's Court, the form of expression of the AI-written story conforms to that of any written work and its content has displayed a reasonable structure, a clear logic, as well as certain originality based on selection and analysis of data and information, hence the defendant's infringement on the plaintiff's copyright," the China News Service report says.

"The defendant, therefore, was required to pay 1,500 yuan (approximately NZ$329) as a compensation for economic losses caused to the tech giant, reported the Legal Daily, a state-owned newspaper in China."

China News Service says the automated system developed by Tencent began in September 2015.

"Based on data and algorithms, the newswriting robot is reportedly capable of writing and releasing up to 2,000 finance or sports-related news pieces every day. In November, 2017, Dreamwriter only needed less than a second to send out the manuscript reporting on the speech delivered by a guest at that year's Tencent Media Summit."

Information on the International Intelligent Robot website says Dreamwriter has averaged 500,000 articles and 80 million words annually. "Taking 15 November 2018 as an example, robots wrote a total of 1,298 weather news, 773 financial news, 546 cars, 126 real estate, and 76 sports [articles]."

Last updated on the 23rd January 2020