|The Hollywood Reporter|
A federal judge on Friday upheld a finding from the U.S. Copyright Office that a piece of art created by AI is not open to protection, so what does this mean for fellow AI art creators?
More than 100 days into the writers strike, fears have kept mounting over the possibility of studios deploying generative artificial intelligence to completely pen scripts. But intellectual property law has long said that copyrights are only granted to works created by humans, and that doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon.
A federal judge on Friday upheld a finding from the U.S. Copyright Office that a piece of art created by AI is not open to protection. The ruling was delivered in an order turning down Stephen Thaler’s bid challenging the government’s position refusing to register works made by AI. Copyright law has “never stretched so far” to “protect works generated by new forms of technology operating absent any guiding human hand,” U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found.
The opinion stressed, “Human authorship is a bedrock requirement.” The push for protection of works created by AI has been spearheaded by Thaler, chief executive of neural network firm Imagination Engines. In 2018, he listed an AI system, the Creativity Machine, as the sole creator of an artwork called A Recent Entrance to Paradise, which was described as “autonomously created by a computer algorithm running on a machine.” The Copyright Office denied the application on the grounds that “the nexus between the human mind and creative expression” is a crucial element of protection.
Thaler, who listed himself as the owner of the copyright under the work-for-hire doctrine, sued in a lawsuit contesting the denial and the office’s human authorship requirement. He argued that AI should be acknowledged “as an author where it otherwise meets authorship criteria,” with any ownership vesting in the machine’s owner. His complaint argued that the office’s refusal was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with the law” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, which provides for judicial review of agency actions. The question presented in the suit was whether a work generated solely by a computer falls under the protection of copyright law.
“In the absence of any human involvement in the creation of the work, the clear and straightforward answer is the one given by the Register: No,” Howell wrote.
U.S. copyright law, she underscored, “protects only works of human creation” and is “designed to adapt with the times.” There’s been a consistent understanding that human creativity is “at the core of copyrightability, even as that human creativity is channeled through new tools or into new media,” the ruling stated.
In March, the copyright office affirmed that most works generated by AI aren’t copyrightable but clarified that AI-assisted materials qualify for protection in certain instances. An application for a work created with the help of AI can support a copyright claim if a human “selected or arranged” it in a “sufficiently creative way that the resulting work constitutes an original work of authorship,” it said.
What is your take on this? Do you agree or disagree?