A U.S. court in Washington, D.C. has found that an artwork produced by artificial intelligence without any human involvement is not protected by copyright under American law.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled on Friday that only writings by human writers are eligible for copyright protection, upholding the Copyright Office’s decision to deny computer scientist Stephen Thaler’s application on behalf of his DABUS system.
The ruling on Friday comes after Thaler had unsuccessful attempts to obtain U.S. patents for ideas he claimed were the work of DABUS, or Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience.
With varying degrees of success, Thaler has also applied for DABUS-generated patents in the UK, South Africa, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.
Ryan Abbott, Thaler’s attorney, declared on Monday that they will appeal the judgment since they strongly disagree with it. In a statement released on Monday, the Copyright Office stated that it “believes the court reached the correct result.”
Thaler has also applied for DABUS-generated patents in other countries including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Saudi Arabia with limited success.
Thaler’s attorney, Ryan Abbott, on Monday said that he and his client strongly disagree with the decision and will appeal. The Copyright Office in a statement on Monday said it “believes the court reached the correct result.”
The fast-growing field of generative AI has raised novel intellectual property issues. The Copyright Office has also rejected an artist’s bid for copyrights on images generated through the AI system Midjourney despite the artist’s argument that the system was part of their creative process.
Generative AI is a rapidly expanding subject that has generated fresh intellectual property concerns. Despite the artist’s claim that the AI system Midjourney was an integral part of their creative process, the Copyright Office denied the artist’s request for copyrights on images created using the system.
In a federal court appeal, Thaler argued that the judgment should not have been made and that permitting AI copyrights would be consistent with the aim of copyright as stated in the U.S. constitution to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.”
The Copyright Office and Howell both agreed that human authorship is a “bedrock requirement of copyright” based on “centuries of settled understanding.”