The U.S. Copyright Office has issued its opinion on who owns the rights to AI-generated work in the age of ChatGPT. This week, the federal agency published (Opens in a new tab) new guidance about AI and copyright law, stating that it is open to granting ownership of AI-generated work 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.
Essentially, whether or not something is covered by copyright depends on how the person uses AI to create content. If the AI is used to generate “complex written, visual, or musical works in response,” then the Office won’t grant it a copyright because the user does not have creative control over how the AI interprets and expresses the work. However, if the user is able to select or arrange AI-generated material in a creative way, then this could be regarded as an original work, and could be protected by copyright.
The decision over whether or not something is protected by copyright comes down to the extent of the user’s creative control over the work. The Copyright Office is aware of the complexities of the situation, and is keeping up to date with new developments in the AI and copyright field.
It is clear that AI will have a huge impact on copyright law, but we are still in the early stages of understanding the implications. We will have to wait and see what the future holds.