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Beijing court hears case about copyright infringement of article created by artificial intelligence

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Works created by artificial intelligence are about to become a new field that China's courts may consider expanding jurisdiction to.

Recently, the Beijing Internet Court held a hearing for a case in which a law firm accused Baidu of reposting its "original article" on a content platform without permission. But the technology giant refused to plead guilty in the court, defending that the accusation is not subject to the Copyright Law because the article was created by artificial intelligence.

Beijing Film Law Firm, the plaintiff which focuses on dealing with cases related to the industries of film, television and entertainment, published the Analysis Report on the Legal Big Data about the Industries of Film, Television and Entertainment on September 9 on its WeChat public account. On the next day, Baidu reposted the article, which the plaintiff claims copyright to, on its self-developed online content platform called Baijiahao. Baidu also made some structural changes to the article.

In the court, Beijing Film Law Firm asked for an apology from Baidu, removal of the article from the Baijiahao platform and a compensation of 10,000 yuan. But Baidu insisted that the article was an artificial intelligence-based one because its principal part was created by a data analysis software. The law firm admitted part of the article was created by a software, but stressed that human writers also took part in the creation.

China's Copyright Law stipulates that copyrights of works created by natural persons or legal persons must be protected, raising a question about whether a work created by artificial intelligence could be subject to the Copyright Law.

The Beijing Internet Court has not issued a verdict yet.

After the court session, a judge said that the case is related to a gap in the Copyright Law which the court needs to explore, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.

"Based on the current laws, it is hard to judge whether a work created by artificial intelligence has a feature of originality as it can be seen as being created by automatic information matching," said Zhao Hu, a Beijing-based lawyer.

Zhao Zhanling, an intellectual property researcher at the China University of Political Science and Law, said that works which people use artificial intelligence or machines to create cannot be protected under the Copyright Law.

Last year, the release of a collection of poems created by Microsoft's artificial intelligence system Xiaoice caused a heated discussion in China about whether works created by artificial intelligence should be protected if they are copied.

With the development of the Internet and wider use of smart technologies in daily lives, China has set up two Internet courts in Hangzhou and Beijing respectively.

The Beijing Internet Court, the second such court established in September, has the jurisdiction to hear cases related to online shopping, service contract disputes, online lending, infringement of online copyrights and Internet domain disputes.

Helped by advanced technologies such as facial recognition and speech recognition, the Beijing Internet Court can handle cases in a more efficient and convenient way, allowing plaintiffs and defendants to complete proceedings on a 24-hour online litigation platform.

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