The U.S. Copyright Office has once again rejected copyright protection for a work of art generated using artificial intelligence (AI). This time it concerns a request from artist Jason M. Allen for an image he created using the generative AI system Midjourney. The office decided that the image titled Space Opera Theatercould not benefit from such protection because she did not have sufficient human paternity.
Created in August 2022, the work received national attention as the first AI-generated work to win an art competition. Last September, the author requested the registration of Space Opera Theaterexplaining having given instructions (“prompts”) to the AI, “at least 624 times ”, before modifying the work using Adobe Photoshop. Jason M. Allen having refused to provide the prompts used to create the work, the Copyright Office rejected his request, considering a lack of balance between human interventions and those of the AI.
The author appealed, finding that “the Office makes a value judgment on the usefulness of various tools” and that denial of copyright protection for generated artwork would result in “void of property”. The office rejected this reasoning.
This is not the first time that such a request has been rejected. Last February, the office revoked copyright protection for images made by artist Kris Kashtanova using Midjourney for the graphic novel Zarya of the Down, but he licensed the copyright of parts of the work modified by humans. More recently, it also refused registration of an image that its author, computer scientist Stephen Thaler, claimed was generated “autonomously by its AI system”.