AI generations can be copyrighted now – on one condition

Content generated by artificial intelligence – including AI writers like ChatGPT and image-generating tools like DALL-E 2 – can now be copyrighted if they meet certain criteria, according to the US Copyright Office.

Until now, the Copyright Office has only considered human-generated work for copyright applications, however, in a shocking turn of events it will now consider AI-generated content so long as a significant proportion of the work was also carried out by a human.

In a Statement of policy (opens in new tab) published earlier this month, the Office’s Director Shira Perlmutter wrote: “In the case of works containing AI-generated material, the Office will consider whether the AI contributions are the result of ‘mechanical reproduction’ or instead of an author’s ‘own original mental conception, to which [the author] gave visible form.’”

Copyrighted AI material

Perlmutter describes that the analysis would be on a “case-by-case” basis in order to assess whether the human is the true author of the content.

An example of a denied application would involve an AI writer receiving a prompt and generating new “complex written, visual, or musical” content. On the other hand, “sufficient human authorship” could result in the acceptance of a copyright application. This could involve the creative arrangement of AI-generated content or further editing whereby AI content is considered merely a template for further work.

The truth of the matter is that the world continues to battle logistically, legally, and ethically with AI as interest in the technology continues to surge, and it’s likely that processes like copyrighting will be continually monitored as further developments take place.

In order to help distinguish AI from human-generated content, there have been discussions of watermarking work created by machines, but so far that has proven troublesome.

Craig Hale

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