AI-generated content can now be copyrighted in the US
Software with artificial intelligence (AI) that can automatically generate images or text on demand has made it much easier for people to create content. The U.S. Copyright Office has recently been receiving more and more filings for material created using these tools. Apparently, the time has come to document which materials the bureau can register and which cannot.
So, on March 16, the US Copyright Office (USCO) published document , which indicates that from now on, the bureau can consider works created by artificial intelligence as protected by copyright. However, not everything is so simple: a person must necessarily prove to the representatives of the bureau that he himself has made significant creative efforts to the final result.
US law states that intellectual property can only be copyrighted if it was the product of human creativity. Therefore, machines and algorithms of generative AI cannot be authors, and their results cannot be copyrighted. Or can? Times are changing, so the bureau decided to make concessions.
According to the above document, digital art such as images, poetry, books, etc. created with tools like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney and ChatGPT cannot be copyrighted unless they are were created exclusively by the machine at the user’s request. This was announced by Shira Perlmutter, director of USCO.
“When AI technology receives only a request from a human and in response creates complex written, visual or musical works, the traditional elements of authorship are determined and performed by the AI technology, and not by its human user. These hints are more like instructions for an artist. They only define what the user wants to display. However, how this is implemented is entirely up to the machine,” Perlmutter wrote in a document outlining the updated copyright rules.
USCO will only consider AI-generated content if the human author has done something other than simply enter a request. For example, if the generated digital image is then edited with Photoshop, it is more likely to be accepted by USCO. That is, the original raw image from the neural network cannot be copyrighted, but the final product created by the artist with its help will succeed.
“The bureau’s decision will depend on the circumstances. In particular, how the AI tool works and how specifically it was used to create the final work,” USCO said.
Perlmutter urged people applying to the bureau to copyright any AI-generated material to follow a simple rule. It is necessary to immediately clearly indicate how artificial intelligence technologies were used to create content. And also to show which specific parts of the work were created by a person.
If the above information is not disclosed, or the applicants attempt to deceive the bureau, USCO will revoke their registration certificate and such work will not be protected by copyright law.