Court Rules Against Copyright Filing for AI-Generated Works

In this post:

  • Court says AI-made art can’t get copyright. Judge backs the need for human authorship.
  • Dr. Stephen Thaler’s challenge was rejected and work made by AI is not for copyright, court says.
  • Copyright law sticks with humans as creators, despite AI advances.

In a recent verdict, the United States Federal District Court for the District of Columbia has upheld the position that works generated solely by artificial intelligence (AI) without human involvement are not eligible for copyright protection. The ruling comes in response to a challenge presented by Dr. Stephen Thaler against the U.S. Copyright Office’s (USCO) denial of his application for copyright registration for a piece created entirely by generative AI technology.

Judge Howell supports human authorship requirement

Judge Beryl Howell, presiding over the case, firmly affirmed the necessity of human authorship as a fundamental prerequisite for copyright. She stated, “Human authorship is a bedrock requirement of copyright.” The opinion not only backs the USCO’s decision but also emphasizes the principle that copyright law centers around human creative input.

Background and dispute details

The case, titled Stephen Thaler v. Shira Perlmutter and The United States Copyright Office, unfolded over a series of legal actions, ultimately culminating in the recent court ruling. The dispute arose when Thaler’s application for copyright registration was rejected by the USCO due to his disclosure that the work in question, titled “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” was generated by an AI system known as The Creativity Machine.

Thaler’s challenge questioned whether a copyright can be granted to a creative work produced entirely by artificial intelligence. Dr. Ryan Abbott, a member of Thaler’s legal team, argued that facilitating the creation and dissemination of new works should be prioritized, regardless of their origin.

The court’s decision

In a concise one-page order, Judge Howell granted the USCO’s cross-motion for summary judgment while simultaneously denying summary judgment to Thaler. In a detailed memorandum decision, the court underscored the role of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in this case, which restricted the judicial review to the administrative agency’s actions—namely, the USCO.

The court pointed out that the administrative record lacked evidence supporting Thaler’s claims of involvement in developing, owning, and directing the AI software used to create the work. As a result, the court’s focus narrowed to whether the Register of Copyrights acted arbitrarily or violated the APA in denying the copyright registration.

Judge Howell unambiguously affirmed that the USCO’s denial of copyright registration was not erroneous. She emphasized that Thaler’s AI-generated work, despite being produced by a machine, did not represent the complex copyright law challenges posed by more advanced technologies. The court derived its conclusion from the administrative record, highlighting Thaler’s integral role in configuring The Creativity Machine for producing the specific image.

The decision pivoted on the fact that Thaler did not rectify the application record regarding his actual contribution to the AI’s output. Consequently, the court held that the USCO’s denial based on the absence of human authorship was justified, disregarding Thaler’s subsequent assertions of involvement.

Appeal prospects

While Judge Howell’s ruling aligns with previous court decisions that uphold the requirement of human authorship for copyright, Dr. Ryan Abbott expressed his intent to appeal the decision. Abbott contended that AI-generated works deserve copyright protection, in line with the Copyright Act’s language.

Thaler’s legal journey also saw a previous attempt to challenge the definition of “inventor” at the U.S. Supreme Court, a bid that was denied earlier this year. Whether Thaler’s appeal regarding copyright law yields a different outcome remains uncertain.

Implications and future directions

The court’s decision resonates with the USCO’s stance on AI-generated works, which currently holds that copyright protections are not extended to creations lacking human involvement. This approach hinges on differentiating between human and non-human contributions in assessing the spectrum of creativity.

However, the larger issue of extending copyright to AI creations might necessitate legislative intervention. For now, Judge Howell’s ruling underscores the continuity in the legal precedent that asserts human authorship as a cornerstone of copyright protection.

The recent court ruling reinforces the requirement of human authorship for copyright protection, particularly concerning AI-generated works. The case underscores the ongoing debate over the intersection of technology and copyright law, leaving open the possibility of legislative action to address this evolving landscape.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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