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The legal relations in the field of the artificial intelligence technology

July 17, 2019

“But in our time ...” – this is what older people usually say, when they are faced with something new and unfamiliar. We often return to the recent past remembering that there have not been, for example, mobile telephones, and a conventional telephone has been not in every home, and one has had to run outside to a public telephone to make a call. Many people, who were born in the Soviet Union, could not even assume that there would be a computer and even a few computers on each desktop.

The development of technological processes does not stand still, and it increasingly surprises us with something new. Now, we already have airplanes flying independently and cars driving. And as it often happens, the technology goes ahead leaving behind legal regulation.

Currently, there is practically no the legal and normative regulation of the emergence, introduction and application of the artificial intelligence technology in Russia. The experts and lawyers have set forward the proposals to adopt a federal law regulating the legal relations in the field of the artificial intelligence technology. It was also proposed to create a federal agency for robotics and artificial intelligence, which would carry out the oversight functions in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence, keep records and statistics of the development of this field.

But as long as the federal law is not adopted and the Office is not created, in each individual case, the creators face sometimes insoluble issues, in particular, who the author and holder of the exclusive right to the result of the intellectual activity created using the artificial intelligence technology is. And anyway, is it possible to call what is created by the robot, which has in fact only activity, but not intelligence, as the result of the intellectual activity.

Speaking about the ownership of the exclusive right, we can refer to the General Part of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, which provides a clear interpretation of the subject matter, and which allows determining who the subject of the right is. The subjects of the right include, in particular, individuals and legal entities.

In accordance with Article 128 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, “The subject matters of the civil rights include things including cash money and certificated securities, other property including non-cash monetary resources, book-entry securities, property rights; the results of works and providing services; the protected results of the intellectual activity and the equated to them means of individualization (intellectual property); intangible benefits.”

Currently, the robot activity, according to the general principle, can be equated to the activity of the person, who has created it/fed intelligence into it. The right holder may be recognized to be the person controlling the robot, using it to create different actions or objects. 

Can, however, the person controlling the robot or who has created the program for the robot be an author of the result created by the robot?

In accordance with Article 1257 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, “The author of the work of science, literature or art shall be a citizen, by whose creative work it has been created.” How correct, when applying this norm, is it to state that the author is a person, who essentially can create a robot, but not the result obtained by the robot? As to the exclusive right, it is directly connected with the fact it has arisen for the author.

Currently, robots are not recognized as the subject of the right, they are equated to the thing that creates or by means of which the results of the intellectual activity can be created. Robots do not have rights and they do not bear responsibility. Accordingly, the robot can not bear responsibility for the harm made by it. According to the general principle, the person bears responsibility for all actions of the robot.

So, what is artificial intelligence? There are two most common opinions.

The first one is contained in the textbook “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach,” authors: Stuart J. Russell and Peter Norvig. The textbook was first published in 1995 and the third edition of the book was published on 11.12.2009. This textbook is used in universities all over the world and it was called “the most popular textbook of artificial intelligence in the world” (Russell, Stuart J.; Norvig, Peter (2009). Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (the 3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall).

In this textbook, artificial intelligence is considered as the mechanism, which performs particular functions using the human qualities. It is also suggested that the mechanism is capable of self-development and self-learning.

The second opinion about artificial intelligence is given in the Explanatory Dictionary on Artificial Intelligence. Averkin A.N, Gaase-Rapoport M.G., Pospelov D.A. M.: Radio and Communication, 1992. An intellectual system is a technical or software system capable of solving tasks...

Let us consider from the legal point of view – whether the technology of artificial interest can be such subject matter as a program for an electronic computing machine.

In accordance with Article 1261 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, “The program for an electronic computing machine is a set of the data and commands represented in an objective form, which are designated to ensure the operation of electronic computing machines and other computer devices in order to obtain a particular result, including the preparatory materials obtained in the course of the development of the program for an electronic computing machine and the audiovisual images generated by it.”

Based on this norm and taking into account the functional purposes of robots, we can say that the program for an electronic computing machine can be as one of the constituent subject matters, by means of which the activity of the robot is ensured and by which the result is achieved. But it does not seem possible to put an equivalence sign between the robot and the program for an electronic computing machine.

In conclusion, it can be concluded that, until the adoption of the law regulating the legal relations regarding the artificial intelligence technology there will be the legal uncertainty regarding the emergence, use and disposal of the exclusive rights to the result of the intellectual activity created with the help of the artificial intelligence technology.


Author of article

Aleksandra Pelikh

Aleksandra Pelikh

Head of Department / Senior Lawyer