A US Federal Judge has ruled that artworks created solely by artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be subject to copyright. This decision, made by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, carries potential implications for various creative sectors, particularly as AI techniques continue to infiltrate different artistic disciplines. The ruling stemmed from a dispute involving AI developer Dr. Stephen Thaler and the U.S. Copyright Office. The Office had previously stated that AI-generated art, such as the piece titled “A Recent Entrance To Paradise,” could not be credited to a machine as the creator. Consequently, copyright ownership under “work for hire” protections was not feasible.
The case raises philosophical questions about the role of human authorship in creative works. Judge Howell emphasized that human involvement and creative control are foundational aspects for copyright. The judgment alludes to the famous “monkey selfie” case, highlighting that no legal precedent exists for recognizing copyright in works originating from non-human sources.
This decision is particularly relevant amid ongoing discussions about AI’s impact on artistic endeavors, including the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in Hollywood. While AI-generated effects in film and other AI-augmented works might continue to be copyrightable, the verdict signals a growing need for clarifying the boundaries of authorship as AI technologies play a more prominent role in the creative process.