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US Copyright Office denies copyright to AI’s art

“A Recent Entrance to Paradise”

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The US Copyright Office has denied a piece of art by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) copyright. A 2019 verdict was reviewed last week by a three-person board against Steven Thaler, who, on behalf of an algorithm, attempted to copyright a piece of art created by it. He dubbed the algorithm the “Creativity Machine.”

“Human Authorship” is deemed to be essential criteria for protection, and the board found it to be missing in Thaler’s AI-created image. The image is titled “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” which is a part of what Thaler calls a “simulated near-death experience,” in which an algorithm reprocesses photographs to produce hallucinating visions and a fictitious narrative about the afterlife. Most importantly, the AI is meant to accomplish this with very little human assistance, which has proven to be a deal killer for the Copyright Office.

According to the board’s ruling, “the connection between the human intellect and creative expression” is a critical component of copyright, and “the courts have consistently found that non-human expression is unsuitable for copyright protection.”

This is not to say that any art containing an AI component is disqualified. Thaler underlined that humans were intentionally not involved, as his purpose was to demonstrate that machine-created works could be protected, not just to prevent individuals from infringing on the image.

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