- A US court has ruled that art produced solely by artificial intelligence cannot be copyrighted under US law.
- US District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that copyrights are only applicable to human-authored works.
- Thaler argued that the demand for human authorship is not a definite legal prerequisite, but the judge disagreed.
In a significant decision, a US court in Washington, DC, ruled that art produced solely by artificial intelligence cannot be copyrighted under US law.
US District Judge Beryl Howell stated that copyrights are reserved for works by human authors, supporting the US Copyright Office’s decision to reject an application from computer scientist Stephen Thaler, who represented the Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentence (DABUS) system.
Thaler experienced defeats in his attempts to secure US patents for DABUS-generated inventions, leading to this decision.
The computer scientist has sought DABUS-generated patents in several other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia, with only partial success.
Thaler’s lawyer, Ryan Abbott, expressed strong disagreement with the ruling on Monday and announced plans to appeal.
The Copyright Office did not provide an immediate response to the comment on Monday.
The Copyright Office rejected an artist’s claim for copyright on images generated by the AI system Midjourney. The artist argued that the system was integral to their creative process.
Judge Howell stated in her ruling: “As artists incorporate AI into their toolkit, we’re venturing into uncharted copyright territories,” leading to complex inquiries for copyright regulations.
“This case, however, is not nearly so complex,” Howell said.
In 2018, Thaler sought copyright protection for “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” a visual artwork generated solely by his AI system, devoid of any human involvement.
Last year, the application was turned down by the office, which asserted that creative works must originate from human authors in order to be eligible for copyright protection.
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Thaler contested the decision in a federal court, claiming that the demand for human authorship isn’t a definite legal prerequisite. He argued that granting AI copyrights aligns with the intention of copyright in the US Constitution to “advance the progress of science and useful arts.”
Howell concurred with the Copyright Office, affirming that human authorship is an essential foundation of copyright, grounded in a longstanding consensus spanning centuries.
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