AI-Created Art and the Ongoing Copyright Controversy

JJohn August 26, 2023 6:27 PM

The debate over whether AI-generated art can be legally copyrighted continues, as a recent lawsuit in the U.S. sees a judge deny such rights. However, with advancing technology, changes could be on the horizon.

AI-created art fails to secure copyright

In an interesting turn of events, a federal judge in the U.S. recently rejected an attempt to copyright an artwork that had been created by an AI. The artwork, named 'A Recent Entrance into Paradise', was generated by a computer algorithm known as the Creativity Machine. The CEO of Imagination Engines, Stephen Thaler, had filed for copyright, listing the Creativity Machine as the sole creator of the artwork. However, the judge ruled that copyright law only protects works of human creation, rejecting the application.

Human creativity at the heart of intellectual property

The rejection of the copyright application was due to the belief that an essential element of protection is the nexus between the human mind and creative expression. Thaler was not pleased with this decision, arguing that AI should be acknowledged as an author if it meets the authorship criteria. He also proposed that copyright ownership should be vested in the machine's owner, and that there needs to be a judicial review of whether a work generated solely by a computer falls under copyright law protection.

What's interesting is that the judge did acknowledge that copyright law has been malleable enough to adapt to the use of technologies developed after traditional mediums of writing and artwork. The U.S. Copyright Act has evolved to allow copyright on 'original works of authorship' in any form of tangible expression, whether known now or developed in the future. While the law insists that human creativity is central to copyrightability, this might be open to interpretation in the age of AI.

Speaking of technological advancements, the role of AI in photography can't be ignored. Most modern cameras, especially those in smartphones, are digital and use computation for almost everything from image capture to post-processing. These cameras, supported by AI, make it difficult to capture a 'bad' photograph. This raises a question: With AI doing most of the work, where does human creativity lie? And how much human input is necessary for copyright?

Emerging challenges in AI-generated art and copyright law

We are venturing into a new era as artists increasingly put AI in their toolbox for generating new visual and other artistic works. As the human element in the creation of a work becomes more and more attenuated, questions arise about the necessary level of human input to qualify the user of an AI system as the 'author' of a generated work. These challenging questions could potentially open doors for changes in copyright law surrounding AI-created works.

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