Title: US Court Ruling: AI-Generated Artwork Denied Copyright Protection
In a groundbreaking federal court ruling, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has declared that artwork created solely by artificial intelligence (AI) is not eligible for copyright protection. This ruling provides a baseline for individuals and businesses seeking copyright ownership for content generated by AI systems.
The case, Thaler v. Perlmutter, Case No. 1:22-cv-01564, revolved around Stephen Thaler’s attempt to obtain copyright registration for a two-dimensional image entitled A Recent Entrance to Paradise, which was autonomously created by a computer algorithm running on his Creativity Machine. Thaler argued that he should be able to claim ownership as the owner of the machine and registering the work as a work-for-hire. However, the Copyright Office denied his application on the grounds that the work lacked the necessary human authorship.
Despite Thaler’s challenges to the human authorship requirement, the Copyright Office maintained its stance that protection under the Copyright Act is only extended to human authors. The court further affirmed this position, stating that human creativity is the sine qua non at the core of copyrightability. The court emphasized that the plain text of the Copyright Act supports protection for works created by or under the authority of [an] author, who is defined as an originator with the capacity for intellectual, creative, or artistic labor.
Additionally, the court referenced the US Copyright Office‘s long-standing position that works must be created by human beings to qualify as a work of authorship. Non-human entities, including AI systems, cannot register works automatically generated without creative input from a human author.
Thaler’s argument that granting copyright registration to AI-generated work would incentivize creativity was also rejected by the court. It noted that non-human actors do not require incentivization through exclusive rights under US law.
While the court refrained from delving into debates regarding the extent of AI’s inclusion under the Copyright Act, it acknowledged the possibility for future cases to address the copyrightability of AI-generated work. Notably, the court’s decision was limited to the administrative record before it, and it did not consider the level of human involvement in Thaler’s case.
In conclusion, the recent US court ruling concludes that AI-generated artwork is not entitled to copyright protection. The decision reinforces the requirement for human authorship under the Copyright Act and aligns with the long-held position of the US Copyright Office. This ruling sets a precedent for those seeking copyright ownership for content created autonomously by AI systems. With unresolved questions surrounding the copyrightability of AI-generated works and the appropriate scope of protection, future cases are expected to provide further clarity on these matters.