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Can I Copyright Ai Generated Images

Can I Copyright AI-generated Images

Amrusha Chati

Amrusha Chati

15 July 20233.6 min read

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Can I Copyright AI-generated Images

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    Remember what we once read about in sci-fi novels?

    Well, that's become a part of our everyday reality now. There have been serious concerns with the rising popularity of Artificial Intelligence. More particularly, there have been concerns about the intellectual property rights for the final product.

    The popularity of ChatGPT raised the question of protecting IP with trademark registration. Nowadays, using AI tools such as DALL·-E and Midjourney are making people wonder:

    “Can I copyright an AI-generated image? And if an artist exerts creative control, in a sufficiently creative way, will the copyright law protect the AI-generated content?”

    As the US Copyright Office acknowledged, "These are no longer hypothetical questions." That's true, but since these are somewhat complex questions, let's start with the basics.

    What is a copyright?

    "Copyright is a form of the intellectual property law that protects original works of authorship." This sounds pretty simple. But AI technology has sparked a debate about what's classified as "original works of authorship."

    The first AI-generated image copyright

    In 2022, Comic-book author and artist Kris Kashtanova became the first to win an AI copyright. Her comic book "Zarya of the Dawn," contained an AI-generated work. But, in early 2023, The Copyright Office reviewed the decision. Why? Well, they realized that the image-generating tool Midjourney created the images.

    "The Copyright Office concluded that a graphic novel comprised of human-authored text combined with images generated by the AI service Midjourney constituted a copyrightable work, but that the individual images themselves could qualify for copyright protection."

    What Is The Human Authorship Requirement for Copyright?

    "Copyright can protect only material that is the product of human creativity," and “the term' author,' which is in both the Constitution and the Copyright Act, excludes non-humans.”

    So to what extent is creative-human involvement granted in the process for consideration? It raises the question, where does creative control end and AI begin?

    For instance, any output based on minimal human involvement won't qualify for a copyright. Avoid instruction prompts such as "arrange AI-generated material". Yet, essential AI art might be further changed, enhanced, or edited by a human.

    What Can I Do To Copyright an AI-generated Image?

    On matters about a standard policy, the US Copyright Office said, "This is a case-by-case inquiry." So how can you increase your chances of securing copyright for AI images or an AI-generated image? Here are a few things you can do:

    1. Ensure your involvement is visible and verifiable in the final output.
    2. Track new developments, especially ones used as case examples to support your application.

    Generative AI is developing and disrupting technology at lightning speed.

    Stability AI's open-source research communities are "developing breakthrough AI models." This means that what we see today begins a new chapter in technology and innovation. There's much more to come, and copyright and trademark laws must evolve and keep pace.

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    Amrusha Chati

    Amrusha Chati


    Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.