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AI-Generated Content May Now Be Legally Protected – Sometimes

  • Apr 19 2023

As AI-generated content continues to grow, more questions are being raised about how the content is to be treated under the law – what is able to be protected and what isn’t. Fortunately, the U.S. Copyright Office has now published new guidance concerning AI and copyright law. The agency now says that it is open to granting ownership of work generated by AI – but on a case-by-case basis. 

“The Office will consider whether the AI contributions are the result of ‘mechanical reproduction’ or instead of an author’s ‘own original mental conception, to which [the author] gave visible form,'” said Shira Perlmutter, director of the Copyright Office.

When is AI-generated Content Copyrightable?

Put simply, copyrighted material will come down to how the AI has been used in order to generate the content. For instance, the U.S. Copyright Office would not accept generative AI as copyrighted material since the elements of authorship are decided and carried out by the technology rather than by the person. Previously, the U.S. Copyright Office found that animals creating works of art are not copyrightable because such works are not executed by a human being.  So, while someone may prompt ChatGPT to write something of a certain length in a certain style, it’s the AI – and not the person – that produces this complex work. 

Alternatively, if someone arranges AI-generated material in such a creative way that it becomes original work, then that work could be copyrighted. It comes down to the level of involvement that the human had over the work’s creative outcome. 

Copyright Issues for AI-generated Content Continue to Evolve

While this may be simple to say, it can be complex to execute. AI copyright law is still brand new. Still, the U.S. Copyright Office has worked hard to address these issues rather quickly. Developments in the field of AI are ongoing, which can change copyright issues on a dime. That’s why it is helpful to consult with a qualified intellectual property attorney who will stay up-to-date on all of the issues surrounding AI and copyright law. He or she can help to do all that is possible to protect your creative work. 

Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser Can Help Protect Your Rights

While it may seem simple to obtain protection for your intellectual property, understanding the nuances of each application and process can be quite complex. That is why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced IP attorney who can explain your options and help you ensure you are adequately protected. 

At Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser, our qualified intellectual property attorneys can help you to navigate the various IP processes or can help to defend your existing IP and your rights regarding any infringement. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Copyright Law

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