US Copyright Office rejects copyright protection for AI creations

US Copyright Office denies copyright for AI-made artwork “Theatre D’opera Spatial” by artist Jason M. Allen, citing lack of human authorship. Concerns about implications raised.

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Once again, the US Copyright Office has turned down the request for copyright protection for AI-generated artwork. Jason M. Allen, an artist, saw his application for copyright protection for his AI-created artwork named “Theatre D’opera Spatial” denied. The Copyright Office’s rationale was that the artwork, created using the AI system Midjourney, lacked human authorship and did not qualify for copyright protection.

This decision comes in the wake of previous refusals, including one involving artist Kris Kashtanova’s AI-generated illustrations for a graphic novel due to Kashtanova’s lack of creative expression. Allen expressed optimism in eventually prevailing in the copyright dispute but also voiced concerns about the potential complications arising from this decision for both the US Copyright Office and creators. Namely, Allen stated that rejection of copyright protection for AI-created material leaves a ‘void of ownership troubling to creators.’

Why does it matter?

This decision prompts consideration of whether art produced by machines can be considered original and creative without human intervention. Copyright protection is essential for creators as it provides incentives to create new content. Denying AI-generated art copyright protection affects how creators, artists, and developers are motivated to engage with AI in their creative processes.