A recent court decision has reinforced that artworks created solely by artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be copyrighted, amid growing concerns about AI threatening the creative industries.
United States District Judge Beryl Howell upheld the U.S. Copyright Office’s stance that AI creations do not meet the authorship criteria required for copyright protection. This verdict came in response to a legal dispute by Stephen Thaler, CEO of AI firm Imagination Engines, who argued AI should be recognized as an author if it meets authorship standards.
The ruling arrives at a tense time, with the Hollywood writer’s strike exceeding 100 days due to worries about AI scriptwriting. However, Howell asserted the importance of human authorship in copyright law, referencing past cases like Burrow-Giles Lithographic Company v. Sarony.
In her decision, Howell stated that copyright laws were designed to motivate human creativity by protecting intellectual property rights. She argued that this has fostered innovation in the arts and sciences. AI, on the other hand, does not require such incentives.
Verdict provides a different angle on AI and copyright
This verdict shifts the debate on AI’s relationship with copyright, underscoring the ongoing necessity of human ingenuity. It also comes amid separate legal battles about AI companies’ use of copyrighted content for training models. Multiple lawsuits in California allege violations that may force AI firms to dismantle their language models.
While AI art may not qualify for protection, the ruling highlights the copyright’s intent to safeguard products of human imagination. As AI grows more advanced, legal guidelines will need to balance fostering AI innovation and protecting individuals’ creative expression. For now, US copyright law maintains that true authorship lies with humans alone.