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Unresolved AI Comic Art Dispute Are Your Copyrights at Risk

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. The US Copyright Office has granted a limited copyright registration for an AI-assisted graphic novel, which could lead to more attempts to protect works that blend human and machine creativity.
  2. The office’s decision has left room for interpretation regarding AI-generated material, but It’s unclear what level of protection is available for works that use AI tools.
  3. The decision highlights the challenge of balancing intellectual property rights with new technologies like AI, and some attorneys argue that the current standards put forth by the decision may need to evolve to better reflect the role of human creativity in AI-assisted works

Full Article

The US Copyright Office recently granted a limited copyright registration to an artificial intelligence-assisted graphic novel, created by artist and creator Kris Kashtanova. This is the first time they have ever done so, recognizing that works that blur the line between human creativity and machine-generated material can be protected under intellectual property laws. Although this decision only applies narrowly to Midjourney text-to-image AI programs – where users aren’t considered ‘authors’ for copyright purposes due to their unpredictable output - other similar systems may be able to receive different treatment in future cases.

Barbara Barath from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP commented that this was not “the end of the road,” as there remain many questions about exactly how far IP rights will stretch when dealing with technology such as AI; The Copyright Office has already begun developing guidance for registering these types of works and plans on holding public events later in 2021 seeking comment on copyrights related issues involving Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Max Sills who represents Kashtanova called it “huge” noting how much effort goes into curating products like books or movies using AI tools: “Where we have a lot of positive room is to show them how much human creativity there is in things people use AIs for.” On the contrary, Ryan Abbott at Brown Neri Smith & Khan LLP noted his disappointment concerning the overly broad position taken by the agency regarding unprotect ability whilst Van Lindberg Taylor English Duma LLPs lawyer remarked upon incorrectness view held that anything put through the program could potentially be completely randomised result despite the significant direct role played by user directing creative elements therein. He further stated that art should still enjoy protection regardless of the computer generation having been involved in taking photographs instead.

It’s clear even now agencies struggle to grapple with new technologies but Jayaram Law founder Vivek Jayaram believes current standards set out within rulings eventually change over time based on past precedents indicating the tendency to take minority views early days of any said advancement until more widespread understanding reached allowing appropriate rulings accordingly