Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

WIPO Director General Speaks on AI and Copyright at Conference in Washington D.C.

February 5, 2020

Policy making related to artificial intelligence (AI) and copyright is among the major intellectual property-related challenges in the AI era, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said in a speech in Washington D.C.

Mr. Gurry gave the keynote address February 5, 2020, at the “Copyright in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” co-sponsored by the United States Copyright Office and WIPO.

Photo of WIPO DG delivering a keynote address on artificial intelligence and copyright in Washington, D.C.
Director General Francis Gurry delivers a keynote address on artificial intelligence and copyright in Washington, D.C. (Photo: WIPO/Woods)

“From a policy point of view … there is a risk that the copyright questions or the property questions in general get drowned out by the urgency and the importance of some of the other questions that we're seeing in the area of, for example, privacy or security or data integrity,” Mr. Gurry said.

“And I think for all of us who care about copyright, it's very important that we assert the role and importance of property, which has, after all, historically been such an extremely important institution for the organization of the market and the economy.”

Mr. Gurry noted WIPO’s ongoing public consultation process on the impact of AI on IP policy. WIPO is seeking to develop, through an open process, a list of issues concerning the impact of AI on IP policy that might form the basis of future structured discussions.

Member states and all other interested parties are invited to provide comments and suggestions on the draft issues paper. Comments are welcome on any aspect of the IP system that is impacted by AI. Deadline for submissions is February 14.

Beyond policy matters, determining the origin of a creative work will be a challenge as AI-directed machines are involved in the creation of new works, said Mr. Gurry.

“The biggest challenge, besides the policy challenge… is going to be how we will ever know what is a machine creation and what is a human creation. And I don't have any answer to this,” said Mr. Gurry.

While in Washington, D.C. Mr. Gurry was to meet with senior officials from governmental and non-governmental groups, as well as companies and industry associations.

Mr. Gurry’s schedule included meetings with Acting Register, U.S. Copyright Office Maria Strong, and Director, U.S. Patent Office, Andrei Iancu, and their teams, as well as officials from the Digital Media Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association, the National Federation of the Blind and the Association of American Publishers, among others.