US federal judge has ruled that AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted

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Joshua Vermillion

US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that artworks produced by artificial intelligence cannot be copyrighted. She stated that the work can only be protected by copyright when a human creates it.

The decision was made due to a lawsuit filed by Stephen Thaler after an application with the United States Copyright Office was rejected.

Thaler filed a copyright application for an artificial intelligence work produced with an algorithm called the “Creativity Machine” that he developed. However, the US Copyright Office has repeatedly rejected these applications.

Last year, Thaler filed a lawsuit against the Office after their final rejection, alleging that the denial was arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful. However, Judge Howell disagreed with this claim. She stated in her ruling that copyright has never been granted to work created without human involvement, emphasizing that human authorship is an essential prerequisite for copyright protection.

Stephen Thaler’s attorney, Ryan Abbot of Brown Neri Smith & Khan LLP, said, “We respectfully disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Copyright Act,” according to Bloomberg Law.

Shira Perlmutter, the head of the Copyright Office, defended their decision to reject Thaler’s application because it was not created by a human. “The Office’s conclusion that copyright law does not protect non-human creators was a sound and reasoned interpretation of the applicable law,” the agency wrote in its cross-motion for summary judgment.

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