AI-generated comic artwork loses US Copyright protection

Zoom in / Cover of “Zarya of the Dawn,” a comic book created using Midjourney AI image-synthesis in the year 2022.

Chris Kashtanova

On Tuesday, the US Copyright Office announced that images created using Midjourney’s artificial intelligence-powered comic book image generator Zaria Dawn It must not have been granted copyright protection, and the image copyright protection will be revoked.

In a letter to the author’s attorney Chris Kashtanova obtained by Ars Technica, the office cites “incomplete information” in the original copyright registration as the reason it plans to cancel the original registration and issue a new one except for protection for the artificial intelligence generated images. Instead, the new registration will cover only the text of the work, the arrangement of the images, and the text. Originally, Kashtanova did not disclose that the images were generated by an AI model.

“We conclude that Ms. Kashtanova is the author of the text of the work as well as the selection, coordination and arrangement of the written and visual elements of the work,” the copyright letter states. This authorship is protected by copyright. However, as indicated below, the images in the work created with Midjourney technology are not a product of human authorship.

Last September, in a story that first appeared on Ars Technica, Kashtanova made it public Zaria Dawn, which includes comic-style illustrations created from claims using the latent diffusion artificial intelligence process, has been granted copyright registration. At the time, we considered it a precedent case for recording artwork created by latent diffusion.

Zaria Dawn, which initially received a US copyright registration in September, has now been revised. “> Zaria Dawn, which initially received a US copyright registration in September, has now been revised. “src=”×358.jpg “width=”640″ height=”358″ srcset=”https://cdn.arstechnica” .net/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/zarya_hero.jpg 2x” />
Zoom in / An excerpt from the comic book with the help of artificial intelligence Zaria Dawnwhich initially received a US copyright registration in September, has now been revised.

However, as the letter explains, after the Copyright Office learned that the work included AI-generated imagery through Kashtanova’s social media posts, it issued a notice to Kashtanova in October stating that it intended to cancel the registration unless she provided additional information explaining why. that. Registration should not be cancelled. Kashtanova’s attorney responded to the letter in November arguing that Kashtanova authored every aspect of the work, and that Midjourney only serves as an adjunct.

This argument wasn’t good enough for the Copyright Office, which describes in detail why it believes copyright protection should not be granted to AI-generated artwork. In the key excerpt below, the office emphasizes the origins of the machine-generated images:

Based on the record before it, the office concludes that the images were created by Midjourney contained in the work are not original works of authorship that he protects Copyrights. be seen cOMPENDIUM (THurd ) § 313.2 (explaining that “The Office will not register works Produced by a machine or simply a random or automated mechanical process without any creative input or input from a human author”). Although she claims to have I “directed” the structure and content of each image, the process described in Kashtanova’s letter It was Midjourney—not Kashtanova—that grew out of “traditional elements,” he explains Authorship “in the pictures.

The letter offers additional analogies to understand why the Copyright Office believes Kashtanova is not the creator of the images, including the idea of ​​having someone create images using descriptions and doing a text image search on the Internet. The overall argument in the letter may serve as an important legal precedent for future attempts at AI-generated imagery.

In an Instagram post, Kashtanova responded to the message by framing it as an overall win for the AI-enhanced artists. She says the ruling is “great news” in the sense that it protects the comic book story and image arrangement, which “covers a lot of uses for people in the AI ​​art community”.

But on the issue of losing individual image copyright protection, Kashtanova says she’s not giving up the fight:

I was disappointed in one aspect of the decision. The Copyright Office has not agreed to recognize my copyright for the individual images. I think they didn’t understand some of the technology, so it led to a wrong decision. It is essential to understand that the output of a generative AI model is directly dependent on the creative input of the artist and is not random. My attorneys are looking into our options for further explaining to the Copyright Office how to view the individual images Midjourney produces. [a] Direct expression of my creativity and therefore copyrighted.

despite of Antecedents for artwork created using prior algorithms Receiving copyright protection, this ruling means that images generated by artificial intelligence, without human-authored elements, cannot currently be copyrighted in the United States. It is likely that the Copyright Office’s ruling on this matter will stand unless it is challenged in court, revised by law, or reconsidered in the future.

It is likely that the ruling will eventually be reconsidered as a result of a cultural shift in how society perceives art generated by AI – one that may allow for new interpretation by different members of the US Copyright Office in the next decade. For now, AI-powered artwork is still a new and poorly understood technology, but it may eventually become the standard way visual arts appear. Disallowing copyright protection is likely to prevent its use by large and powerful media conglomerates in the future. So the story of artificial intelligence and copyright is not over yet.

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