A work of art generated by an AI technique does not fall under the copyright rules in the USA and cannot be copyrighted. A federal district judge confirmed this and brought computer scientist Stephen Thaler another legal defeat. He had tried unsuccessfully to register an image generated by his “Creativity Machine” AI with the Copyright Office and then decided to take legal action against the decision. However, the Federal District Court for Washington DC has now confirmed that “human authorship is an integral part of a valid copyright claim”. This should be another damper for the hype about AI.
Art must come from people
Thaler submitted the work, titled “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” to the copyright agency for registration in November 2018, stating that it was “created autonomously by an algorithm running on a machine.” The Copyright Office refused. The authority referred to Thaler’s statement that the work was created “without any creative contribution by a human being”. However, US copyright law only permits copyright protection for the “fruits of intellectual work” which “have their basis in the creative powers of the human mind”. Federal Judge Beryl Howell agreed, saying that Thaler could not point to any case where the work of a non-human was copyrighted.
For Thaler, the decision is another legal defeat. For years he has not only been trying to copyright the AI artwork. When he tried to obtain patents for his AI inventions in the USA in the spring, he finally failed before the Supreme Court. Here, too, the crucial counter-argument was that inventors in the United States must be human beings. Internationally, however, his record here is mixed. In Australia it was confirmed to him that an AI can in principle be recognized as an inventor. South Africa, on the other hand, was the first country in the world to issue a patent naming Thalers Technik as the creator and Thaler as the copyright holder.
The Hollywood Reporter is now bringing the latest verdict from Washington DC in the context of the disputes surrounding AI, which, among other things, have also led to the ongoing strikes in Hollywood. If all AI-generated content still cannot be copyrighted, this could lead to caution in the use of the technology. At the same time, those responsible for the use of AI are already pointing out that it is an additional tool and that people remain involved in the creation of new works. Thaler, on the other hand, explicitly insisted that no human was involved in its creation.
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