The Copyright of Procedural Art

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  • Topic: Patent, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Perlin noise
  • Pages : 4 (1793 words )
  • Download(s) : 41
  • Published : April 1, 2011
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Traditionally, creative works such as drawings, paintings and other pictures have been protected by copyright law. Procedurally generated art can produce works that mimic a drawing, painting or photograph, but there is a complication in defining the work as an algorithm or a creative work. Copyright does not extend to algorithms, so the questions follows: Is procedurally generated art simply an algorithm that should be treated as such, or is it a creative work that should be covered by copyright law? Procedurally generated content in general is considered to be produced by a program rather than explicitly defined by a data structure. However, a program itself can be seen as an explicitly defined data structure (Ebert, Musgrave, Peachey, Perlin & Worley, 2003). Even with that in mind, any person could draw the distinction between a photograph rendered by a computer and a similar scene rendered as a 3D scene. This distinction becomes important when copyright law comes into play. Creative works are protected under copyright law. This grants the creator the exclusive rights to copy, distribute and adapt their work as they see fit. Copyright law in Canada was amended in 1988 to include computer programs as creative works (Makarenko, 2009). Due to this, a procedurally generated piece of art may be protected both as a creative work in its own right and as a computer program. In fact, entire suites of software exist for the sole purpose of creating procedural art (Pixar Animation Studios, 2010). One company may own the copyright for the software, while another may own the copyright for any works they create using the software. This notion of copyright becomes problematic when we examine how procedural art is actually created. As with traditional art, there are a number of basic actions that can be combined to produce a completed work. For example, an oil painting is the product of mixing colors and placing brush strokes onto a canvas. Using those basic actions a...
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