With the generative AI revolution fully underway, many people have questions about the ownership and copyright status of text and images created with technology like ChatGPT and DALL-E. This week, the U.S. Copyright Office weighed in with new rules for authors and artists registering AI material.
The official position of the Copyright Office is that text and images wholly created by AI are not copyrightable because a machine generates them. It explains that platforms that provide these services have ultimate creative control.
“Based on the Office’s understanding of the generative AI technologies currently available, users do not exercise ultimate creative control over how such systems interpret prompts and generate material. Instead, these prompts function more like instructions to a commissioned artist—they identify what the prompter wishes to have depicted, but the machine determines how those instructions are implemented in its output,” the Office stated.
Further, the Office warned that authors submitting work containing AI elements must disclaim that in their copyright application. “When an AI technology determines the expressive elements of its output, the generated material is not the product of human authorship. As a result, that material is not protected by copyright and must be disclaimed in a registration application,” according to the Office.
However, the Office acknowledges that AI can be used to create or modify original work and carves out exceptions by stating, “In other cases, however, a work containing AI-generated material will also contain sufficient human authorship to support a copyright claim. For example, a human may select or arrange AI-generated material in a sufficiently creative way that ‘the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.’ Or an artist may modify material originally generated by AI technology to such a degree that the modifications meet the standard for copyright protection. In these cases, copyright will only protect the human-authored aspects of the work, which are ‘independent of’ and do ‘not affect’ the copyright status of the AI-generated material itself.”
So, authors and artists may use AI to craft their work. And so long as it remains the ultimate work of human ingenuity and creativity, it can be registered with the Copyright Office. However, the use of AI must be disclaimed in the application process. The Office gives more detailed instructions to applicants on how to disclaim the use of AI in their work in its full guidance.
Source: Federal Register