The US Copyright Office refused an AI-generated work last february, citing a prerequisite of human authorship. That hasn’t stopped AI enthusiasts from trying to legitimize glorified art theft. Last year, a creator tried to register a comic with images generated by him in the AI tool Midjourney. Yesterday, that creator finally received an official decision about potential copyright. The comic would receive protections for the text and arrangements, both produced by a human. However, the images generated by the AI software would not be copyrighted.
Still, the creator, Kris Kashtanova, is trying to frame it as a win for the AI community. Kashtanova tweeted that Zarya of Dawn had its copyright “asserted”, although that is not exactly what happened.
According to the Copyright Office Letter, Kashtanova originally did not disclose use of the Midjourney software when it filed for copyright last year. The new partial copyright is intended to replace the old one, which covered the entirety of the work. The letter states that the new ruling is a more “limited” version. So the decision is actually a huge blow to AI proponents, who had hoped their work would be protected under US copyright law.
kashtanova said kotaku they never planned to “monetize” the comics, but wanted to know the legal status of AI jobs in the US Images generated mid-journey.
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“My lawyers and I are discussing an appeal,” Kashtanova said. kotaku via Twitter DMs. “I’d like to think about it for a few days because it’s been an emotional journey. I have often been harassed online for using AI tools and being in the news so much.”
Look, please don’t harass people over the internet. But monetization is the main purpose of copyright protection. Amateurs don’t need copyrights to mess with technology, and I would be very skeptical of anyone claiming that they to need to enshrine their AI creations in the eyes of US law. Even when artists come together to create a collaborative work, they still retain rights to their work—unless they give up their copyright to collect a paycheck. Rather than worrying about their own legal rights, AI creators should be more concerned about the artists whose work they are exploiting.