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Beijing Court Upholds Copyright in Landmark Decision on AI-Generated Images

 |  November 30, 2023

The Beijing Internet Court has recognized copyright in artificial intelligence (AI)-generated images, marking a significant departure from international precedents, including the stance taken by the U.S. Copyright Office.

The case involved Mr. Li, who utilized Stable Diffusion, an advanced AI system, to create an image. Mr. Li subsequently published the AI-generated work on the popular Xiaohongshu platform. The dispute arose when a blogger on Baijiahao used the same image without permission to accompany an article, prompting Mr. Li to file a lawsuit.

The Beijing Internet Court’s decision hinged on the determination that the AI-generated image met the legal requirements for “originality.” The court argued that the creation reflected a form of intellectual investment akin to that of a human creator and, therefore, should be classified as a work protected under copyright law.

Read more: US Senator Urges Big Tech To Label AI-Generated Content

This ruling starkly contrasts with the position taken by the U.S. Copyright Office, particularly in the case of ‘Zarya of the Dawn’ (Registration # VAu001480196), where copyright for AI-generated images was not recognized. The Beijing case also distinguishes itself from the recent Thaler v. Perlmutter decision (Civil Action No. 22-1564 (BAH)), where the focus was on recognizing the AI itself as the author rather than the individual utilizing the AI as a creative tool.

Legal experts are closely watching the implications of this decision, as it challenges existing norms and opens new avenues for the protection of AI-generated content. The ruling acknowledges the role of AI as a tool for human expression rather than an independent creative entity, aligning more closely with the traditional concept of authorship.

The decision has sparked discussions about the evolving landscape of intellectual property rights in the digital age. As AI continues to play an increasingly integral role in creative processes, legal frameworks around the world may need to adapt to ensure fair recognition and protection for those who use AI as a tool for expression.