The Future. Wholly AI-generated works may not be eligible for copyright protection, but the Copyright Office may allow AI-assisted works to receive a certificate. This is all still in flux, and the Office will be holding listening sessions soon to better understand what is at play, but the partial copyright of AI works may sow even more confusion among artists and those that employ them.
A helping hand
The US Copyright Office may be ushering in the era of humans and AI creating together.
- Copyrights can only be granted to works that are “the product of human creativity” and can’t be issued to authors that are “non-humans” (i.e., AI or robots).
- When it comes to generative AI, the Office says that prompts act “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.”
But, the Office also signaled that works using AI can get copyright if the human author “selected or arranged” the AI output in enough of a “sufficiently creative way that the resulting work constitutes an original work of authorship.”
So what does that all mean? According to the Office, if you modify an AI work enough, it can transition from just an AI generation to a piece of human creation — how that is decided and by who has huge implications.
But there’s a wrinkle — only the human elements of these AI-assisted creations will be protected, as was the case with Kristina Kashtanova’s comic book, Zarya of the Dawn, which had its AI-generated illustrations denied copyright protection.