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US Court Declares AI-Generated Art Unfit for Copyright Protection

 |  August 21, 2023

United States District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled on Friday that artwork generated by artificial intelligence cannot be subject to copyright, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit against the US Copyright Office by Stephen Thaler, who sought copyright protection for an AI-generated image produced through the Creativity Machine algorithm he developed.

Thaler had made multiple attempts to secure copyright for the image by presenting it as a “work-for-hire” owned by the creator of the Creativity Machine, with himself listed as the owner of the artwork. However, his requests were consistently denied.

In response to Thaler’s legal action, Judge Howell found that copyright has historically been granted to works that have involved a human element in their creation. She emphasized the importance of human authorship as a fundamental requirement for copyright protection. Judge Howell cited past cases, including the famous monkey selfie case, to support her position. In contrast, she referenced a case in which a woman compiled a book based on “dictations” from a supernatural “voice,” deeming it worthy of copyright protection.

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

While acknowledging the evolving landscape of copyright in relation to AI-generated work, Judge Howell recognized the emerging challenges presented by artists utilizing AI as a creative tool. She noted the impending need to address questions about the extent of human input required to qualify AI-generated art for copyright protection, given that AI models often draw from existing artistic works.

Stephen Thaler intends to appeal the court’s decision. His attorney, Ryan Abbot of Brown Neri Smith & Khan LLP, expressed disagreement with the court’s interpretation of the Copyright Act. Bloomberg Law reported that the US Copyright Office supported the court’s decision, believing it to be the appropriate outcome.

Source: The Verge