Alcune idee e appunti su Copyright ed AI

Premesso che il copyright non protegge le idee ma che protegge le specifiche espressioni delle idee, lo “stile” di un artista è protetto dal copyright ?

Il mio cane Guapo (si è un po’ strabico) nello stile della Marvel, fatto con Midjourney è una violazione del copyright Marvel ?

Ne parlavamo ieri con due amici.

La risposta semplice è che lo stile non è generalmente protetto da Copyright

“Generalmente”, perchè ci sono state sentenze contrarie

The sole substantial issue on this appeal is whether or not the trial court erred in holding that the two designs were not substantially similar.[1] It is settled in this circuit that an appellate court will exercise powers of de novo review in deciding such an appeal. As we stated in Concord Fabrics, Inc. v. Marcus Brothers Textile Corp., 409 F.2d 1315, 1317 (2d Cir. 1969): “As we have before us the same record, and as no part of the decision below turned on credibility, we are in as good a position to determine the question as is the district court.”[2]

The standard of substantial similarity as perceived by the ordinary observer is well-settled in this circuit. Ideal Toy Corp. v. Fab-Lu Ltd., 360 F.2d 1021 (2d Cir. 1966); Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487 (2d Cir. 1960). Noting that two fabric designs were “not identical” in Peter Pan, Judge Learned Hand pointed out that “the ordinary observer, unless he set out to detect the disparities, would be disposed to overlook them.” Peter Pan, supra, at 489. In Ideal Toy we said that “the appropriate test for determining whether substantial similarity is present is whether an average lay observer would recognize the alleged copy as having been appropriated from the copyrighted work.” Supra at 1022.

Source: Malden Mills, Inc. v. Regency Mills, Inc., 626 F. 2d 1112 – Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 1980 – Google Scholar

Ovvero la corte aveva stabilito in questo appello una protezione per lo stile, anche se le immagini erano diverse, perchè un comune osservatore avrebbe potuto pensare che erano sostanzialmente simili, a meno di fargli notare le differenze.

In un altro caso c’erano due poster di New York e di Mosca, in cui quello di Mosca richiamava elementi stilistici di quello di new york (il dettaglio è qui sotto, si può prendere per buono che erano simili, anche se di due città diverse e proseguire a leggere sotto

To decide the issue of infringement, it is necessary to consider the posters themselves. Steinberg’s illustration presents a bird’s eye view across a portion of the western edge of Manhattan, past the Hudson River and a telescoped version of the rest of the United States and the Pacific Ocean, to a red strip of horizon, beneath which are three flat land masses labeled China, Japan and Russia. The name of the magazine, in The New Yorker‘s usual typeface, occupies the top fifth of the poster, beneath a thin band of blue wash representing a stylized sky.

The parts of the poster beyond New York are minimalized, to symbolize a New Yorker’s myopic view of the centrality of his city to the world. The entire United States west of the Hudson River, for example, is reduced to a brown strip labeled “Jersey,” together with a light green trapezoid with a few rudimentary rock outcroppings and the names of only seven cities and two states scattered across it. The few blocks of Manhattan, by contrast, are depicted and colored in detail. The four square blocks of the city, which occupy the whole lower half of the poster, include numerous buildings, pedestrians and cars, as well as parking lots and lamp posts, with water towers atop a few of the buildings. The whimsical, sketchy style and spiky lettering are recognizable as Steinberg’s.

The “Moscow” illustration depicts the three main characters of the film on the lower third of their poster, superimposed on a bird’s eye view of New York City, and continues eastward across Manhattan and the Atlantic Ocean, past a rudimentary evocation of Europe, to a clump of recognizably Russian-styled buildings on the horizon, labeled “Moscow.” The movie credits appear over the lower portion of the characters. The central part of the poster depicts approximately four New York city blocks, with fairly detailed buildings, pedestrians and vehicles, a parking lot, and some water towers and lamp posts. Columbia’s artist added a few New York landmarks at apparently random places in his illustration, apparently to render the locale more easily recognizable. Beyond the blue strip labeled “Atlantic Ocean,” Europe is represented by London, Paris and Rome, each anchored by a single landmark (although the landmark used for Rome is the Leaning Tower of Pisa).

The horizon behind Moscow is delineated by a red crayoned strip, above which are the title of the movie and a brief textual introduction to the plot. The poster is crowned by a thin strip of blue wash, apparently a stylization of the sky. This poster is executed in a blend of styles: the three characters, whose likenesses were copied from a photograph, have realistic faces and somewhat sketchy clothing, and the city blocks are drawn in a fairly detailed but sketchy style. The lettering on the drawing is spiky, in block-printed handwritten capital letters substantially identical to plaintiff’s, while the printed texts at the top and bottom of the poster are in the 711*711 typeface commonly associated with The New Yorker magazine.[2]

Che l’autore del secondo poster avesse avuto accesso al primo poster era stato stabilito dsenza dubbio.

Ma averlo imitato, in questo imitation game, era una violazione del copyright ? C’era una somiglianza sostanziale ?

 The central issue of “substantial similarity,” which can be considered a close question of fact, may also validly be decided as a question of law. Berkic v. Crichton, 761 F.2d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir.1985), citing Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions, Inc. v. McDonald’s Corp., 562 F.2d 1157 (9th Cir.1977).

“Substantial similarity” is an elusive concept. This circuit has recently recognized that

[t]he “substantial similarity” that supports an inference of copying sufficient to establish infringement of a copyright is not a concept familiar to the public at large. It is a term to be used in a courtroom to strike a delicate balance between the protection to which authors are entitled under an act of Congress and the freedom that exists for all others to create their works outside the area protected by infringement.

Warner Bros., 720 F.2d at 245.

The definition of “substantial similarity” in this circuit is “whether an average lay observer would recognize the alleged copy as having been appropriated from the copyrighted work.” Ideal Toy Corp. v. Fab-Lu Ltd., 360 F.2d 1021, 1022 (2d Cir.1966)Silverman v. CBS, Inc., 632 F.Supp. at 1351-52. A plaintiff need no longer meet the severe “ordinary observer” test established by Judge Learned Hand in Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487 (2d Cir.1960)Uneeda Doll Co., Inc. v. Regent Baby Products Corp., 355 F.Supp. 438, 450 (E.D.N.Y.1972). Under Judge Hand’s formulation, there would be substantial similarity only where “the ordinary observer, unless he set out to detect the disparities, would be disposed to overlook them, and regard their aesthetic appeal as the same.” 274 F.2d at 489.

 it is now recognized that “[t]he copying need not be of every detail so long as the copy is substantially similar to the copyrighted work.” Comptone Co. v. Rayex Corp., 251 F.2d 487, 488 (2d Cir. 1958)See also Durham Industries, 630 F.2d at 911-12Novelty Textile Mills, 558 F.2d at 1092-93.

Source: Steinberg v. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., 663 F. Supp. 706 – Dist. Court, SD New York 1987 – Google Scholar

Un’altra decisione ha stabilito che ciò che conta è il fatto che si abbia avuto accesso all’opera protetta da copyright e si considera l’output, non il procedimento

Proof by direct evidence of copying is generally not possible since the actual act of copying is rarely witnessed or recorded. Normally, there is no physical proof of copying other than the offending object itself. Copying therefore is generally established by showing that the defendant had access to the copyrighted work and that the offending and copyrighted articles are “substantially similar.” Atari, Inc. v. North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp., 672 F.2d 607, 614 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 880, 103 S.Ct. 176, 74 L.Ed.2d 145 (1982)O’Neill v. Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 630 F.2d 685, 686 (1st Cir.1980

Source: Concrete Machinery Co. v. Classic Lawn Ornaments, 843 F. 2d 600 – Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit 1988 – Google Scholar

Rimane da stabilire se è possibile che Midjourney (che ho usato per la foto di Guapo) possa essere ritenuta corresponsabile.

Sebbene nei termini di servizio si dica che non si deve usare per copiare materiali protetti da copyright, mi pare che faccia ben poco per impedirlo.

Il mio prompt diceva di fare Guapo “nello stile di un supereroe della Marvel”. Direi che c’erano pochi dubbi…

Se una persona vede quella foto di Guapo pensa “potrebbe essere un personaggio Marvel ?. Mi pare di capire che se la risposta è affermativa, c’è violazione del Copyright.

Il confine è labile (dove cade lo stile, nella differenza tre l’idea e l’espressione ?) ma c’è, e le piattaforme possono fare molto per evitare che sia copiata (ad esempio bloccare le richieste di fare le cose “nello stile di…”)

Cosa ne pensano gli amici giuristi ?

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