US District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell said that AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted. This decision was made in response to a lawsuit filed by Stephen Thaler who was attempting to register the copyright for an image created using the Creativity Machine algorithm.
Steven Thaler has repeatedly attempted to copyright an image created using the Creativity Machine algorithm he developed. Thaler wanted to register the image as a commissioned work, where the author would be the algorithm and Thaler himself would be the owner of the work. However, his application was rejected.
After the final denial last year, Thaler filed a lawsuit against the US Copyright Office (USCO), arguing that the denial was unlawful. However, Judge Howell disagreed, writing in her decision that copyright was never granted to non-human works, emphasizing: “Human authorship is the basic principle of copyright law“.
However, the judge acknowledged that humanity is facing a new frontier in copyright law, where artists will use AI as a tool to create new works. She pointed out that this would lead to difficulties in determining the level of human involvement in their creation required for copyright registration of works.
Thaler’s attorney Ryan Abbot of the law firm Brown Neri Smith & Khan LLP said they disagreed with the judge’s interpretation of the law and intended to appeal the decision.
Recently, there has been an increase in lawsuits related to copyright and AI in the US. For example, Sarah Silverman and other authors filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Meta✴ for the illegal use of their works in AI training. Another lawsuit filed by programmer and attorney Matthew Butterick against Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI alleges that using copyrighted code for AI training is piracy.