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US Federal Judge: Copyright Unapplicable to AI-Generated Art

US Federal Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that AI-created art cannot receive copyright protection. The decision was made in response to a lawsuit against the US Copyright Office for denying copyright to Stephen Thaler’s AI-generated image, produced using the Creativity Machine algorithm he developed.

Thaler attempted to copyright the image multiple times, intending it to be a ‘work-for-hire’ under the Creativity Machine’s ownership. However, his requests were consistently denied.

Following the Office’s final rejection last year, Thaler filed a lawsuit, alleging the denial was ‘arbitrary, capricious, and against the law.’ However, Judge Howell upheld the denial. In her ruling, she affirmed that copyright has never extended to works ‘created without human intervention,’ emphasizing ‘human authorship’ as a fundamental requirement for copyright.

Past cases, like the one involving a monkey selfie, support this viewpoint, as cited by the judge. In contrast, Judge Howell highlighted another case where a woman compiled a copyrighted book from supernatural ‘voice’-dictated notebooks.

AI-Generated Art Exempt from Copyright, US Judge Rules
Stephen Thaler’s AI-generated artwork cannot be copyrighted.
 Steven Thaler and/or Creativity Machine

Nevertheless, Judge Howell recognized the evolving copyright landscape due to AI. She mentioned the challenge of determining the human input required for copyrighting AI-generated art, given AI models’ reliance on existing work.

Stephen Thaler intends to appeal. His lawyer, Ryan Abbot from Brown Neri Smith & Khan LLP, expressed disagreement with the court’s interpretation. The US Copyright Office supported the court’s decision, as reported by Bloomberg Law.

The future of US copyright law and AI remains uncertain amidst increasing legal cases. Sarah Silverman and two authors sued OpenAI and Meta over data scraping practices, while programmer Matthew Butterick’s lawsuit alleges Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI engaged in software piracy through data scraping.

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