Australians will not own copyright of photos taken with the Google Clips camera according to recent analysis by Australian intellectual property law firm Davies Collison Cave.
Google Clips is not officially sold in Australia yet, and at this time Google has yet to comment on whether it will ever go on-sale here, however it does raise an interesting question “who owns copyright when a robot takes a photo?”.
That’s because the owner of a Google Clips does not initiate photo taking, instead artificial intelligence algorithms inside the gadget decide when moments are interesting enough to justify automatically taking a picture of the scene it is pointed at.
According to Davies Collison Cave lawyers John Hannebery and Lachlan Sadler:
Under the Australian Copyright Act, subject to certain exceptions, copyright in an artistic work is owned by the author, which, in relation to a photograph, is “the person who took the photograph”. Therefore, as simple as that, the owner of a Clip (or similar product) which takes photos by AI will not own copyright under Australian law, as they are not the person who “took” the photos. Unfortunately for robots everywhere however, neither will the AI.
Hannebery and Sadler advise that under current Australian law “no-one will own copyright in photos taken by AI”.
Options that the Australian Federal Parliament could take in the future include amending copyright laws to award copyright of photos taken by AI to the owner of the device, or alternately to the creator of the AI (in this case Google).
It should be pointed out that no-one can access Google Clips photos unless you decide to share them. They remain on the camera until you decide to share them. Once shared and other people have access to the file it would not be protected under current Australian copyright laws.