AI Art Just Got Slapped With A Crucial And Devasting Legal Blow

The U.S. Copyright Office has ruled that AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted.

By Britta DeVore | Updated

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In the ever-growing world of technology, the limits on what we’re seeing with artificial intelligence are constantly being pushed. In today’s installment of “robots will soon take over the world,” we bring you the news of a triumph for artists and animators (but not lawyers), like the one in the tweet below, who may have been concerned that their jobs would be taken over by AI with a penchant for art. According to Reuters, a ruling from the U.S. Copyright Office has been made that states that AI-created images can not be given copyright.

The decision was an override of a previous case in which the Office issued author Kristina Kashtanova a copyright for her comic book Zarya of the Dawn. While Kristina Kashtanova penned the text and formed each page’s layout, she used AI art by way of messaging her writing to an artificial intelligence image generator, Midjourney. So, while the thoughts and story behind Zarya of the Dawn will continue to have its copyright upheld, the images in Kristina Kashtanova’s comic book have had their copyright taken away because of their AI formation.

Standing by their point of view, the U.S. Copyright Office said that this example of AI-created art was similar to cases like the iconic news of the monkey taking a selfie and even songs that credit “non-human spiritual beings” such as the Holy Spirit as their author. Like these examples, because the images were created by a non-human, their rights won’t be protected by copyright. As for their initial ruling, the Copyright Office says that they were misled during the first proceedings as they were unaware that the pictures were created with Midjourney (which is also being used to make a movie), only later learning that this was the case through Kristina Kashtanova’s social media pages.

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The AI art ruling comes as a piece of good news to many like Twitter user MAiJin.THE ARTIST who praised the U.S. Copyright Office for their groundbreaking ruling in a post that you can see at the top. In what he refers to as a “landmark decision,” the artist says that Kristina Kashtanova was “rightfully rejected” from upholding the copyright on Zarya of the Dawn’s artwork. The post also refers to what the author and Midjourney produced together to be a matter of “art direction,” adding that because of this the “prompter” wouldn’t be “directly or substantially responsible” for the final images.

Sharing her feelings about the final government’s final decision in an Instagram post that you can see above, Kristina Kashtanova said that it was “great news” that the Copyright Office was “affirming” her work behind Zarya of the Dawn, leading it to still being “officially registered.” She praised the idea that authors can copyright their own stories and build their intellectual property into the pages of comic books and the like while using AI tools like Midjourney to form the art even though those images will be without copyright. While she was thrilled with how the ruling was handed down, she was slightly disappointed that she was unable to copyright specific images as she doesn’t believe that the committee fully grasped “some of the technology” behind the creations.