AI-Generated Images Lose U.S. Copyrights in Test for New Technology

The U.S. Copyright Office has ruled that images produced with the artificial intelligence system Midjourney are not eligible for copyright protection. In a Tuesday letter, the office said only the parts of a graphic novel written and arranged by author Kris Kashtanova are eligible for copyright protection, not the AI-generated images.

This decision is one of the first by a U.S. court or agency on the scope of copyright protection for works created with AI. It comes at a time when generative AI software like Midjourney, Dall-E and ChatGPT are becoming increasingly popular.

The Copyright Office said in its letter that it would reissue the “Zarya of the Dawn” registration to omit images that “are not the product of human authorship” and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted. The office had no comment on the decision.

In response to the ruling, Kashtanova said it was “great news” that the office allowed copyright protection for the novel’s story and how the images were arranged. Kashtanova is now considering how to argue best that the images themselves are a “direct expression of [their] creativity and therefore copyrightable.”

The decision of the U.S. Copyright Office has highlighted the potential implications of AI-generated images and their copyright protection status. With AI technology advancing rapidly, the law will likely need to adapt to keep pace. With more and more generative AI software being used to produce works of art that could potentially be seen as copyrightable, the decision of the U.S. Copyright Office could set an important precedent for the future of AI-generated art and copyright law.

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