Another case of IP law needing to be updated for the computer age…
Someone is suing movie studios over the copyright to characters which were created using facial contour mapping of actors onto CGI faces. the defence is arguing that this would be equivalent to Microsoft owning the copyright text written in Word or Adobe owning images made with Photoshop. of course the plaintiff disagrees:
“Generally, an author writes a book by typing every word into a Word document, and an artist creates a work of art by deciding on specific treatment of every pixel in a Photoshop file,” continues the brief. “But in neither case does their work provide input to software that synthesizes an original expression that is distinct from the author’s or artist’s input. … The core distinction between defendants’ analogies and the MOVA Contour program is the degree to which the output is the product of the effort of the program’s user versus the program itself. Where the program does the ‘lion’s share of the work’ in creating the output — as the complaint alleges the MOVA Contour program does here — the copyright in the output belongs to the programmer, not the end-user or the director.”Lawyers of Rearden LLC in their brief as quoted in Hollywood Confronts a Copyright Argument With Potential for Mass Disruption [hollywoodreporter.com]
I don’t buy the argument on grounds of common sense. The idea that the computer does the “lion’s share of the work” in that it crunches the numbers implies that the mathematical operations done by the CPU, as instructed, is more valuable than all the other work done to produce a blockbuster film, or the work of the actor behind the CGI, seems absurd. Without the users the computer would sit idle Computer programs do the “lion’s share” of the work in so many aspects of the modern world.
Programers make programs to do things, people use the programs to do those things. If he wins then programers will own the world, or whoever the programmers work for.