Judge Rules AI-Generated Art Can’t be Copyrighted Under US Law


Judge Beryl Howell of the US District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that art created entirely by artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be copyrighted under US law. The decision came after plaintiff Stephen Thaler’s application for copyright was rejected by the US Copyright Office, which stated that the work lacked human authorship. Thaler challenged the decision in court but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Thaler had sought a copyright for an image titled A Recent Entrance to Paradise, which was generated by a computer program he developed. In his application, he identified the author as the Creativity Machine, the name of his software. However, the Copyright Office denied the application, stating that copyright law only extends to works created by human beings.

Thaler made a second attempt to register the work, arguing that AI should be recognized as an author if it meets the authorship criteria, with copyright ownership vesting in the AI’s owner. However, the Copyright Office once again refused to register the work, stating that copyright law is limited to works of human creation.

Judge Howell’s ruling emphasized that copyright law in the United States protects only works of human creation. While Thaler acknowledged that copyright law has adapted to cover works created with new technologies, such as AI, the judge highlighted that human creativity remains the core element that makes a work copyrightable.

The ruling raises significant questions about the role of AI in the creation and ownership of artistic works. Thaler’s arguments regarding legal theories under which a copyright in the computer’s work could transfer to him were dismissed by Judge Howell, who maintained that these arguments did not address the central issue of whether a copyright can be granted for a work generated without human involvement.

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This decision aligns with a ruling from last year in which Thaler lost a separate case concerning AI software as the registered inventor on a patent. The US Court of Appeals ruled that inventors must be human under US patent law.

Ultimately, this ruling emphasizes the importance of human authorship in copyright protection. While AI has undoubtedly made significant advancements in generating creative works, the law currently recognizes human creativity as the essential component of copyright eligibility. As the field of AI continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how legal frameworks will adapt to address the complexities and implications of AI-generated art.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What is the recent ruling regarding AI-generated art and copyright?

The recent ruling states that art created solely by artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be copyrighted under US law. The decision came after a plaintiff's application for copyright was rejected by the US Copyright Office due to the lack of human authorship.

Who brought the case before the US District Court?

Plaintiff Stephen Thaler brought the case before the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

What was the judge's ruling in this case?

Judge Beryl Howell ruled that human authorship is essential for a valid copyright claim. The plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was denied, and the Copyright Office's motion was granted.

What was the image at the center of this copyright application?

The image named A Recent Entrance to Paradise was the subject of the copyright application. It was generated by a computer program developed by the plaintiff.

Why did the Copyright Office reject the initial copyright application?

The Copyright Office rejected the initial copyright application because it lacked human authorship, which is necessary for copyright protection. The Copyright Office stated that copyright law only covers works created by human beings.

Did the plaintiff argue for AI recognition as an author?

Yes, the plaintiff argued that AI should be recognized as an author as long as it meets the authorship criteria, with copyright ownership vested in the owner of the AI. However, the Copyright Office refused to register the work, maintaining the requirement of human creativity for copyrightability.

What was the judge's reasoning behind the ruling?

The judge's ruling emphasized that US copyright law protects works of human creation, and while it has adapted to cover works created with the aid of technology, human authorship has always been a fundamental requirement. The judge noted the deep-rooted understanding that copyright law presumes authorship to be human.

How does this ruling impact AI-generated art and copyright in the United States?

This ruling establishes that AI cannot be credited as an author or holder of copyright. It reaffirms the traditional concept of authorship, which focuses on human creativity and originality. However, it also sparks ongoing debates about the need to evolve copyright law to recognize the contributions of AI systems in artistic creation.

What are the larger implications of this ruling in relation to AI and creative processes?

The ruling raises complex questions about ownership, authorship, and intellectual property as AI continues to advance and play a larger role in various industries. It highlights the ongoing conversation surrounding AI's involvement in the artistic landscape and the need to find a balance between protecting human creativity and acknowledging the contributions of AI.

What can we expect in the future regarding AI-generated art and copyright?

It is anticipated that there will be further legal developments as technology evolves and the conversation surrounding AI and creative processes continues. The impact of this ruling on future legal cases and the development of AI-generated art remains to be seen. However, it is clear that, for now, US law limits copyright protection to works of human creation.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

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