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U.S. Federal Judge Rules That AI-generated Art Cannot Be Copyrighted

There looks to be a win for those on the side of the writer’s strike.


A federal judge earlier in August upheld a finding from the US Copyright Office “that a piece of art created by AI is not open to protection,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The ruling was delivered in an order that turned down Stephen Thaler’s bid challenging the government’s position of "refusing to register works made by AI." US District Judge Beryl Howell found that the copyright law has “never stretched so far” to “protect works generated by new forms of technology operating absent any guiding human hand.”

The judge’s opinion was all about human authorship being a bedrock requirement.

Thaler, the chief executive of neural network firm Imagination Engines, spearheaded the push for protection of works created by AI. Back in 2018, he listed an AI system -- known as the Creativity Machine -- as the only creator of an artwork, A Recent Entrance to Paradise, which was described as “autonomously created by a computer algorithm running on a machine.”

In response, the Copyright Office denied the application, informing that “the nexus between the human mind and creative expression” is a crucial element of protection.

Then Thaler, who listed himself as the owner of the copyright under the work-for-hire doctrine, sued in a lawsuit, which contests the denial and the office’s human authorship requirement. He contested that AI should be acknowledged as “an author where it otherwise meets authorship criteria,” with any and all ownership vesting in the machine’s owner.

He also contested 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 questioned asked in the lawsuit was whether a work provided only by a computer falls under the copyright law protection.

“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.

US copyright law “protects only works of human creation” and is designed to adapt with the times.”

There’s been an understanding that human creativity is “at the core of copyrightability, even as that human creativity is channeled through new tools or into new media.”

1 Comment

This ruling on AI-generated art not being eligible for copyright is a landmark decision in the realm of intellectual property law and AI’s implications across various industries. It’s a clear indicator of the evolving legal landscape as it tries to keep pace with technological advancements. Similarly, AI’s impact is profoundly reshaping project management. The integration of AI tools is optimizing planning, execution, and monitoring phases, significantly enhancing productivity and precision. For those interested in understanding the broader implications of AI beyond just legal and creative fields, I highly recommend exploring the role of AI in project management . This article discusses how AI technologies streamline project management tasks and what that might mean for future projects across different sectors. How…

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