What do Suda the elephant and e-David the robot have in common? Both are capable of creating beautiful paintings, free(ish) of human intervention—one uses its trunk to clutch the brush, the other a mechanical arm (though whether Suda is truly “free” when she paints is a matter of serious contention). Each can even sign their work. The quality of their paintings does vary slightly, though of course, beauty is in the visual sensor of the beholder. Suda, who lives in a Thai elephant camp, paints self-portraits, simple outlines of elephants and trees, while e-David, a German robot, paints portraits of others with detailed shading, strokes tailored even down to the choice of brush. Despite their artistic differences, e-David and Suda have another thing in common: dubious rights to legal authorship of the fruits of their labor. Neither is able to hold copyright under current U.S. law.
Read more ‘A Monkey Can’t Hold Copyright. But What About a Robot?’ at slate.com