AI Authorship Dilemma: Copyright Challenges and New U.S. Guidelines

AI Authorship Dilemma: Copyright Challenges and New U.S. Guidelines

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In this article, we delve into the reasons behind the recent guidance from the U.S. Copyright Office regarding the copyright eligibility of AI-generated content. 

This guidance follows an increase in the use of advanced generative AI technologies such as GPT-4 and Midjourney for creative purposes.

Key Takeaways:

  • AI-generated works without human intervention are not eligible for copyright.
  • AI-assisted works may be copyrighted if specific conditions are met.
  • Authors must disclose any AI-generated content in their submitted works.
  • Further guidance and public input sessions are planned for the coming months.

In the Age of AI: Navigating Copyright Issues

The US Copyright Office has recently released guidelines on the copyright eligibility of AI-generated content, following a surge in creative use of generative AI technologies such as GPT-4 and Midjourney. 

This comes after the Office rejected an author’s attempt to copyright AI-generated images for a comic book, reinforcing the legal principle that authors must be human to register works. 

As AI continues to evolve, the Copyright Office seeks to address the broader copyright challenges these technologies present.

AI Content and Human Authorship

According to the guidance, AI-generated works created solely from prompts, without human intervention or modification, are not eligible for copyright as they lack human authorship. 

The Office explains that generative AI technologies determine and execute the “traditional elements of authorship” without human users exercising ultimate creative control over how these systems interpret prompts and generate material.

Potential for Copyright in AI-Assisted Works

The guidance does, however, leave room for copyrighting AI-assisted works under certain conditions. 

For example, if an author arranges AI-generated content in a specific sequence or modifies it in a way that meets the standard for copyright protection, they may be eligible for copyright. 

The Copyright Office will determine each case’s eligibility based on the AI tool’s operation and its use in creating the final work.

Mandatory Disclosure of AI-Generated Content

The guidance emphasizes that authors must disclose any AI-generated content within their submitted works for registration. 

Authors should differentiate between human-created and AI-generated content, and if uncertain, provide a general statement that the work contains AI-generated content. 

Failure to accurately disclose AI’s role in copyrighted works could result in losing the benefits of registration, leaving the work vulnerable to copying and infringement claims.

Concerns Over Disclosure and Infringement

Critics, such as Alex J. Champandard of, argue that the current guidance places authors in a difficult position: disclosing AI use might expose them to infringement, while not disclosing it would be safer but in violation of the US Copyright Office’s guidelines.

Looking Ahead: Public Input and Additional Guidance

The Copyright Office acknowledges the need for further clarification on AI-assisted content eligibility for registration. 

They have planned a series of listening sessions in April and May to collect public input on this issue. 

The Office has also created a dedicated webpage to keep the public informed about AI news and events, making it easy to access updated guidance as rules evolve.


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Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.