U.S. Copyright Law Protects Only Human Works

By Guest Contributor Victoria E. Thornton

You may have seen online images that were created using artificial intelligence (AI) and wondered whether copyright law protects the artist’s efforts. In most instances, apparently not. A recent landmark decision by the United States Copyright Office holds that copyright protects only human-made works.

The Copyright Office’s February 21, 2023, published decision explains why artificially made works are not protected. “Zarya of the Dawn” is a comic book authored by Kristina Kashtanova and illustrated using Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program. See U.S. Copyright Office Correspondence to Kristina Kashtanova (Feb. 21, 2023). Though the Office granted limited registration as to the text of the work as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the work’s written and visual elements, it declined to protect the artificially generated illustrations. Id. at 1.

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