Art generated by artificial intelligence (AI) tools can’t be copyrighted under current law, a U.S. district court judge ruled.
Judge Beryl Howell said the U.S. Copyright Office “acted properly” in denying a copyright to a work of art created by an AI tool after the scientist behind the tool, Stephen Thaler, sought to protect the artwork, according to a Friday ruling.
Ryan Abbott, an attorney for Thaler, said in an email “we strongly disagree” with the court’s decision and plan to appeal.
“In our view, the law is clear that copyright is intended to benefit the American public by promoting the generation and dissemination of new works, regardless of how those works are made,” Abbott said.
The case is based around Thaler’s creation of what he calls the “Creativity Machine,” an AI tool that generates art. Thaler sought to register a piece of art created by the tool, titled “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” with the Creativity Machine identified as the author and himself as the “work-for-hire to the owner of the Creativity Machine.”
Howell wrote that “human authorship is a bedrock requirement of copyright” in her decision to uphold the denial of a copyright.
At the same time, though, Howell wrote that “undoubtedly, we are approaching new frontiers in copyright as artists put AI in their toolbox.”
Concerns around copyrights are among the challenges from the rise of generative AI that policymakers are considering, as tools and cases like Thaler’s are likely to become more common.
The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property has held hearings about how AI is challenging intellectual property law, as part of the committee’s series of hearings on Ai risks, challenges and benefits.
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