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| 1 minute read

Should copyright protection extend to Artificial Intelligence created work product?

In Stephen Thaler v. Shira Perlmutter and the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO), the plaintiff (Thaler) is requesting that the U.S. district court for the District of Columbia set aside a refusal from the USCO to register his Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated artwork on the basis that the author of the work was identified as an AI system. Thaler contends that the work at issue "meets all the requirements for copyright protection" and had he "submitted the same AI-generated work with his company listed as the author, the USCO would have granted his company a registration and no one would have known the work was AI-generated." Thaler further argues that by refusing to register the work, the USCO is frustrating the purpose of the U.S. Copyright Act -- promoting the creation and dissemination of work product -- and that allowing AI generated works to obtain registered protection encourages the development and use of creative AI which results in the generation of more works. 

While Thaler's rationale may not be too far-fetched, opening the doors to AI generated works creates an even bigger issue: who owns the copyright? The party that owns the AI platform, or the party that utilized the platform to create the AI generated work?

In terms of an outcome, Thaler likely has an uphill battle as courts have regularly interpreted the US Copyright Act to require human authorship.

As for what we can expect in terms of an outcome for Thaler, Everist stated that “given the current state of the case law, Thaler likely faces an uphill battle, [as] courts, including the Supreme Court, have uniformly interpreted the Copyright Act to require human authorship.” More broadly, he called the case an important one in light of the fact that “AI is becoming increasingly present in our everyday lives, extending far beyond the scientific realm.”