You can’t copyright AI-created art in the U.S.

The U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) has, once again, refused to issue Dr. Stephen Thaler a copyright for work created by AI. The USCO said that current copyright law only offers protections to “the fruits of intellectual labor” that “are founded in the creative powers of the [human] mind.” As such, a copyrighted work “must be created by a human being,” and the office says it won’t register works “produced by a machine or mere mechanical process” that lack intervention or creative input from a human author.

A few problems come to mind. First, how will the USCO know if a work is created by a human or a machine? It is not always obvious. Thousands of copyrights will be issued to people who simply claim credit for work done by AI.

Where is the line between human/machine partnerships (generative design) and pure AI? If I ask GPT-3 to create a space suit made of orange peels, is that work eligible? What if I am working on a project about oranges in space, my AI system creates a series of drawings by itself, and one of them is a space suit made of orange peels? Is that eligible? Where is the line?

Lastly, Australia recognizes AI-created inventions as protectable by patent, so we’re heading into a world with inconsistent copyright, patent and trademark laws. This is going to get super messy very soon. Please post your thoughts and comments on DiscordTelegram, or Twitter. -s

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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