Now, the US Copyright Office has decided that AI-generated images from sources such as Midjourney or DALL-E will not be protected by copyright in the same way as images created by a human from start to finish. The agency writes:

ai generated images

When an AI technology receives solely a prompt from a human and produces complex written, visual, or musical works in response, the ‘traditional elements of authorship’ are determined and executed by the technology — not the human user.

However, copyright protection may still be applied to the text used to generate the images, so we may not have heard the last of this debate.

When it comes to works that contain material generated by an AI, the USCO looks at whether the model’s contributions to the work are the result of “mechanical reproduction” (i.e., generated in response to text prompts) or if they represent the author’s “own mental conception.” Current rules state that the USCO “will not register works produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author.”

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