The Debate over Copyright Ownership for AI-Generated Works Continues

The Debate over Copyright Ownership for AI-Generated Works Continues


Dr. Stephen Thaler, a pioneer in AI innovation, asked the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit whether AIgenerated creative works merit copyright protection without human involvement

This matter emerged from a twodimensional artwork created by Dr. Thaler’s AI system: “A Recent Entrance to Paradise.” Thaler applied for copyright registration, listing himself as the copyright claimant and the AI system as the author

However, the Copyright Office rejected Thaler’s application on the grounds that the artwork lacked human authorship. Thaler appealed this decision, contending that copyright law neither explicitly requires human authorship nor excludes nonhuman entities

On August 18th, 2023, the District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the Copyright Office’s stance, prompting Thaler to appeal. He presented two compelling arguments: either the AI system should be recognized as the author, with Thaler as the copyright owner, or, given his substantial control over the work’s creation, Thaler should be designated as the author under the workforhire doctrine. The workfirehire doctrine grants ownership of a work to the employer or hiring party rather than the individual who created it

Thaler’s appeal underscored several key arguments. He emphasized the lack of a human authorship requirement in the Copyright Act and insisted that authorship could be interpreted more broadly to include nonhuman entities. In addition, he revealed that the protection of AI- created work is consistent with the purpose of the Act since the primary objective is to support creativity for the public good

Central to Thaler’s argument is his claim to ownership rights to the AIcreated artwork. He explained his pivotal role in creating the AI system responsible for the work. He advocated for recognition as the rightful owner under property law principles or as the author under the work-for-hire doctrine

Dr. Thaler’s appeal is still pending, and the outcome may redefine the parameters of copyright protection in an AIdriven landscape and reshape copyright law in the digital era

Thaler is represented by Ryan Benjamin Abbott and Timothy George Lamoureux of Brown Neri Smith & Khan LLP

The U.S. Copyright Office is represented by Nicholas S. Crown and Daniel Tenny of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division

The case is Thaler v. Perlmutter, case number 23-5233, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

* Lowe & Associates (The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving copyright law, having provided topquality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many highprofile cases

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