Outrage Over Artificial Intelligence: Could Hollywood Studios and Other Artists Loose?

Over 100 days into the ongoing writers’ strike, concerns have intensified over the potential use of generative artificial intelligence to compose scripts. However, the legal landscape surrounding intellectual property remains unchanged. In a recent development, a federal judge upheld the stance of the U.S. Copyright Office, ruling that artworks created by AI are not eligible for copyright protection.

The ruling was delivered in response to a challenge by Stephen Thaler, CEO of neural network company Imagination Engines. Thaler had listed an AI system called the Creativity Machine as the sole creator of an artwork named “A Recent Entrance to Paradise” back in 2018. The Copyright Office rejected his application, emphasizing the importance of human authorship in granting copyright protection.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, in her ruling, highlighted the fundamental requirement of human authorship for copyright protection. She stressed that copyright law is designed to evolve with the times but has consistently centered on human creativity as its core element. Cameras, for instance, only mechanically reproduce scenes after human decisions regarding subjects, arrangements, and lighting are made.

The judge cited past legal precedents to bolster her decision. In one prominent case, the Supreme Court held that protection could be extended to photographs as long as they represented the original intellectual conceptions of a human author. Howell also referenced a federal appeals court ruling that denied copyright to a photograph taken by a monkey due to animals’ ineligibility for protection.

The ruling also explored the purpose of copyright law: to incentivize human engagement in creation. It emphasized that copyright and patents were conceived to safeguard forms of property and encourage individuals to invent and create.

The ruling comes amidst ongoing legal battles over AI companies training their systems on copyrighted materials. Lawsuits have been filed by artists in California federal court, alleging copyright infringement by AI companies and potentially leading to the destruction of large language models.

Although the Copyright Office has clarified that AI-assisted creations can be protected in certain circumstances, the recent ruling underscores the principle that AI-generated works, devoid of human involvement, are not entitled to copyright protection.

Hollywood Reporter


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