Skip to main content

AI-Generated Images Cannot Receive Copyrights

Posted By: Laura C
Posted On: September 7, 2023

AI’s capabilities have advanced to the point where distinguishing between human-created and AI-generated artwork can be nearly impossible. In today’s rapidly evolving digital age, where artificial intelligence (AI) permeates every corner of the art world, a burning question arises: Who, or what, holds the right to claim creation, and can AI-generated art be copyrighted? The answer, at least for now, as ruled by a U.S. court in Washington, D.C., is a resounding no.

Setting the Stage: The DABUS Case

Stephen Thaler, a prominent computer scientist, found himself at the heart of this groundbreaking legal dispute. He sought copyrights for an artwork titled “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” which, he claimed, was created by his AI system DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience) without any human intervention. The art piece, therefore, was, in essence, the “brainchild” of DABUS.

However, the court didn’t see eye-to-eye with Thaler. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell affirmed that only works with human authors can be copyrighted, thereby upholding the Copyright Office’s decision to deny Thaler’s application.

Copyright’s Human Touch

While Thaler’s argument leaned on the premise that human authorship isn’t a stringent legal necessity and that AI copyrights align with the U.S. Constitution’s intent to further scientific and artistic progress, Judge Howell had a different viewpoint. 

She looked to the past and emphasized that the necessity for human authorship is deeply rooted in “centuries of settled understanding” and described it as the “bedrock requirement of copyright.”

A Global Conundrum

The questions surrounding AI-generated creations and intellectual property rights resonate far beyond U.S. borders.

For instance, Japan faced a similar conundrum when Mirai, an AI system, sought patent rights for its innovations in 2019. Mirroring the U.S. stance, Japan emphasized the necessity of human intervention.

Meanwhile, the European Union, through its draft report on Civil Law Rules on Robotics, hinted at the possibility of granting robots a specific legal status. This could reshape how AI contributions are perceived in creative processes.

Down Under, Australia treads cautiously, wrestling with whether AI is a mere instrument or a more collaborative entity in the artistic sphere.

Beyond DABUS: The AI Artistic Revolution

The DABUS case is just the tip of the iceberg. The burgeoning field of generative AI has thrown a wrench into the traditional gears of intellectual property. For instance, the Copyright Office also denied a copyright bid by an artist using the AI system Midjourney, even though they argued that the AI was integral to their artistic creation.

This brings us to a fascinating juncture: If an AI system is merely a tool in the creative process, akin to a paintbrush or a camera, should its products not be eligible for copyright?

The Training Conundrum: AI’s Hunger for Data

Venturing into the realm of AI’s data processing can feel a bit like navigating uncharted waters. Consider this scenario: AI systems are continuously fed with vast amounts of data, but sometimes they inadvertently consume copyrighted content. Now, there are looming legal battles centered around the use of such “off-limits” data for training. 

The central dilemma is intriguing: If an AI processes copyrighted material and subsequently produces a work, does it infringe upon the original copyright? And to what extent does a single piece of data influence the final product? While the artwork AI generates might not be stamped with a copyright, the source material’s rights still hover in the background, adding another layer to the debate.

It’s a Pandora’s box of complexities!

Beyond Art: AI’s Broader Copyright Implications

The ripple effects of the DABUS case extend beyond the confines of the art world. Journalism, literature, and music are areas where AI’s touch is increasingly evident.

For instance, AI-driven news reports and literary pieces are gaining traction. If these cannot be copyrighted, it might dissuade further innovation in these arenas. Similarly, AI-generated music compositions could revolutionize the entertainment industry, but the absence of copyright protection remains a deterrent.

What’s Next in the World of AI and Art?

Judge Howell succinctly captured the zeitgeist by stating, “We are approaching new frontiers in copyright as artists put AI in their toolbox.” Indeed, this raises “challenging questions” for copyright law. While the DABUS case might seem straightforward to some, it represents the forefront of a wave of potential legal battles in the AI-artistic realm.

As technology and art continue to intertwine, the question remains: Will legal systems adapt to acknowledge the evolving nature of creation, or will AI-generated artworks forever remain in the shadows of legal ambiguity?

To Wrap it Up

The integration of AI in our creative spheres is both exhilarating and daunting. While it pushes the boundaries of what’s possible, it also propels us into a labyrinth of legal and ethical quandaries.

One thing is clear: As AI’s capabilities continue to soar, legal systems worldwide must evolve in tandem. The static viewpoints of today may not suffice for the dynamic challenges of tomorrow. 

Whether AI will ever gain recognition as a creator remains to be seen. Until then, the dance between technology, art, and law promises to be a captivating one.

For those intrigued by the wonders of AI-generated art and keen on diving deeper, don’t miss our article, “Is Non-Human Created Art Still Art?” The journey between AI and art is just getting started, and it promises to be a thrilling ride!

Download App

AI Art Generator

Discover a whole new way to have FUN with your AI Art

Download App

Related Resources

More Resources

No Comments yet!

Your Email address will not be published.