In a recent development, the US Copyright Office has revisited the copyright protection initially granted to Kristina Kashtanova for her comic book, "Zarya of the Dawn," which featured artwork generated by an artificial intelligence program known as Midjourney.
According to a letter sent to Kashtanova's lawyer by Robert Kasunic, the associate Register of Copyrights, the Copyright Office now recognizes Kashtanova as the author of the comic book's text, along with the selection, coordination, and arrangement of its written and visual elements.
However, the images themselves, created by Midjourney, are deemed to lack human authorship, leading to the cancellation of the original copyright registration for them.
Reasoning Behind the Decision
The Copyright Office justifies its decision by referring to previous cases where non-human entities were not eligible for copyright, such as "non-human spiritual beings" or the Holy Spirit as the author.
This decision also draws parallels to the famous incident involving a monkey taking a selfie.
Late Discovery of AI Involvement
The Copyright Office only became aware of Midjourney's role in generating the images after the registration was granted, based on Kashtanova's social media posts.
Although both Midjourney and Kashtanova were credited on the book's cover, Midjourney's name was absent from the substantial content submitted to the Copyright Office.
Conclusion and Artist's Response
In conclusion, the original certificate was issued based on "inaccurate and incomplete information," leading to its cancellation.
Kashtanova expressed mixed feelings about the decision, celebrating the copyright of the book's arrangement and story but expressing disappointment over the lack of copyright protection for individual AI-generated images.
Midjourney's Unique Copyright Status
The Copyright Office's decision takes into account Midjourney's specific image generation process, which involves breaking word prompts into tokens and comparing them to training data.
The Office distinguishes Midjourney from other AI tools used by artists, citing its unpredictability as a key factor.
Disagreements and Future Considerations
Kashtanova's lawyer, Lindberg, disagrees with the Copyright Office's arguments, pointing out errors in their interpretation, particularly regarding the role of randomness in Midjourney's image generation.
He argues that AI-assisted art should be treated similarly to photography.
Kashtanova is exploring legal options to further clarify to the Copyright Office that individual images produced by Midjourney represent her creativity and should be copyrightable.
This case highlights the evolving challenges and discussions surrounding copyright in the age of AI-assisted creativity.
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