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US Copyright Office Will Register AI-Generated Work

US Copyright Office Will Register AI-Generated Work

Ivana Shteriova
As a result of the recent AI race led by ChatGPT, the US Copyright Office announced it will grant ownership of AI-generated content on a “case-by-case” basis.

Last week, the US Copyright Office presented a new initiative to address copyright in materials produced with the help of AI tools and the use of copyrighted resources in AI training.

With generative AI reaching high levels of sophistication, tools like ChatGPT and MusicLM can produce impressive works with just a prompt. How a person uses this AI to create something will play a critical role in whether the work can be copyrighted.

The Office explains that such work “lacks human authorship” because “traditional elements of authorship were produced by a machine.” In cases where the work was produced “without any creative contribution from a human actor,’’ the Office won’t register it as copyright.

On the other hand, the Office will accept AI-generated work with “sufficient human authorship to support a copyright claim.” What exactly is “sufficient” for the Copyright Office is not set in stone and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Along with the AI initiative, the Copyright Office launched a set of new registration guidelines that obligate applicants to disclose AI-generated work. The new guidelines also describe how to disclose AI-generated work, correct the public record on already registered copyrights that lack AI disclosure, and update pending applications to conform to the new guidelines.

For decades, all editions of the Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, including the most recent one, indicate that for work to be copyrightable, it “must be created by a human being” and that the Copyright Office ‘‘will not register works produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author.”

But with the volume of AI-related applications growing by the day, the Copyright Office must rethink its practices, and the AI initiative is a step forward in that direction. To develop ethical rules around AI-generated work, the Copyright Office will host public listening events throughout spring where artists, AI developers, researchers, and other concerned parties can join and contribute.

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