AI-Generated Image Denied Copyright Protection by U.S. Copyright Office
A U.S. review panel ruled that an award-winning image generated by artificial intelligence is not protected by U.S. copyright because it was not made by humans. The U.S. Copyright Office Review Board rejected a request by artist Jason M. Allen for copyright protection for his image “Theatre D’opera Spatial,” which was generated by the AI system Midjourney.
The image, which depicts a futuristic royal court, was the winner of the Colorado State Fair’s 2022 art competition, making it the first AI-generated image to win the competition.
Allen initially filed an application for copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office in September 2022 without disclosing that the image was created with AI. When asked for an explanation of the process used in creating the work, Allen explained that he input numerous revisions and text prompts to arrive at the initial version of the image, which he then edited with Photoshop. However, because Allen used Midjourney to generate the image, his request for copyright protection was denied by the office.
Allen appealed the ruling but was once again denied copyright protection because the image generated by Midjourney was deemed not an original work of authorship protected by copyright. The Office accepted Allen’s claim that human-authored visual edits made with Adobe Photoshop contained a sufficient amount of original authorship, but the features generated by Midjourney and Gigapixel AI were excluded as non-human authorship. As Allen sought to register the entire work and refused to disclaim the portions attributable to AI, the Office could not register the claim.
This ruling is not the first time the Copyright Office Review Board has denied protection for an AI-generated image. In a similar case in May 2022, computer scientist Stephen Thaler sought copyright protection for an image generated with a Creativity Machine algorithm he created, but his application was also denied. Thaler later sued the office in federal court, and U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that AI-generated artwork cannot be copyrighted.
The emerging technology of AI has seen widespread mainstream use in recent years, both in image and text platforms. However, this ruling poses new challenges for the copyright office. Jason Allen expressed confidence that he will win in the end and believes that this decision will create more problems than it solves.
Source: Fox News