Is AI Art Copyrighted? The Battle for Ownership in the Digital Age
In the ever-evolving world of technology, artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant strides in the creative realm, generating music, art, poems, and even movie scripts. But the question remains: is AI art copyrighted? Let’s dive into the complexities of copyright law and AI-generated creations.
Is AI Art Copyrighted?
Under Australian law, a work can only be protected by copyright if a human author contributed “independent intellectual effort”. AI tools do not currently have legal status and cannot own copyright. It means that works solely created by AI may not be protected by copyright, leaving the ownership of such creations in a legal grey area.
Examples of AI Art
- The AI-generated portrait titled ‘Edmond de Belamy’ sold for $432,000 at Christie’s auction in New York.
- Australian music band Uncanny Valley used AI to generate the song ‘Beautiful the World’ which won the Eurovision-style “AI Song Contest” in 2020
The Fine Line Between Human and AI Contributions
The level of human contribution is crucial in determining whether works generated using AI are protected by copyright and who owns them. For example, if a creator produced an image and used an AI tool to edit the image, the human contribution is likely enough for copyright protection. However, it remains unclear whether other contributions, such as writing, tweaking, training the algorithm or pre-selecting and editing the output, would be enough to attract copyright protection.
The Legal Landscape: A Work in Progress
In a recent US federal court ruling, artwork created by generative AI platforms was deemed ineligible for copyright protection due to the lack of “human authorship”. This decision has sparked debate and speculation about the long-term implications of AI-generated content and its ownership.
In Australia, the situation remains uncertain, with no lawsuits like the US case filed yet. Legal experts suggest that the issue of human authorship may arise but might not be insurmountable in all cases.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can AI-generated art be copyrighted?
Under Australian law, a work can only be protected by copyright if there is a human author who contributed “independent intellectual effort”. AI tools do not currently have legal status and cannot own copyright. This means that works solely created by AI may not be protected by copyright, leaving the ownership of such creations in a legal grey area.
Who owns the copyright of AI-generated art?
If a work generated using AI has enough human input, the human contributor would own the copyright. However, it remains unclear what level of human contribution is necessary for copyright protection.
Do I need permission to use copyrighted work in data used by AI?
Generally, it is an infringement of copyright to digitally reproduce works without permission1. If you make a digital copy of a work to train an AI, this use will require permission from the copyright holder. However, there are currently no copyright exceptions in Australia specific to data mining or using works for machine learning
The question of whether AI art is copyrighted remains a complex and evolving issue. As AI advances and blurs the lines between human and machine-generated creations, the legal landscape must adapt to address the challenges and uncertainties surrounding copyright protection and ownership. Until then, artists and creators must navigate the grey areas of AI-generated art with caution and a keen understanding of the current legal framework.
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