Categories: Uncategorized

Blog ➥ Category

Published July 5, 2024

Catherine Cavella, ESQ.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping the creative landscape. Artists, designers, and creators increasingly rely on AI tools to inspire, design, and produce art. As AI technology becomes more sophisticated, a critical question emerges: who owns the rights to AI-generated art? This blog post, authored by a legal professional, explores the legal terrain surrounding AI-generated art, focusing on copyright ownership and the implications of recent United States Copyright Office (USCO) decisions.


Copyright law is fundamentally about protecting “original works of authorship.” To qualify for copyright protection, the work must contain a degree of creativity and be fixed in a tangible medium. Given this framework, the use of AI raises an important question: what counts as “original” if AI is involved?


The United States Copyright Office has guided this matter, underscoring that copyright protection applies only to works created by human authors. As of February 1st, 2024, if an AI tool contributes to creating a job, you must disclose this to the Copyright Office and explain which parts were made by AI and which by you, the human author.


This distinction has significant consequences for artists and creators using AI tools. While you may own the rights to the portions of a final product you created, you do not own rights to the parts contributed by AI. Therefore, when registering a work for copyright protection, it’s crucial to be transparent about AI’s role in its creation.


If you use AI to create a sketch or another preliminary concept and then develop it into a new piece of art, you generally own the rights to the portions you create. However, you don’t own rights to specific AI-generated elements or patterns. This understanding has essential implications for artists and designers who rely on AI in their creative processes.


Following some essential best practices is crucial to ensure proper copyright protection for AI-related works. First, maintain detailed records that document your creative process. This means keeping track of how AI was involved in your work and clearly distinguishing which parts were created by AI and which by you, the human author. This meticulous documentation will be valuable in case of future disputes or when demonstrating your creative contributions.


Second, transparency is paramount when you register a work for copyright. You should disclose to the Copyright Office the role of AI in creating your work, identifying the portions generated by AI and those you crafted yourself. This openness helps prevent legal complications and potential issues with copyright validity.


Third, if you’re creating hybrid works—where AI-generated elements are combined with your original input—highlight the parts where you had significant creative control. This approach can strengthen your claim to copyright ownership, as it underscores the human element in your art.


Finally, stay updated on the evolving legal landscape surrounding AI-generated art and copyright. Laws and regulations in this area are in flux, so keeping abreast of new court rulings, legislation, and guidance from the Copyright Office is critical. This ongoing vigilance ensures that you remain compliant with current rules and can adapt to future changes in the legal environment.


Using AI in the creative process introduces complex questions about copyright ownership. As an artist or designer, it’s crucial to recognize that while you may own rights to the portions of a work you create, you do not own rights to the parts contributed by AI. By following best practices, maintaining transparency with the Copyright Office, and keeping abreast of evolving laws, you can navigate this emerging field and protect your rights to your original contributions.


In conclusion, the evolution of AI in the creative arts brings both opportunities and challenges. As a creator, your path forward involves careful navigation of the copyright landscape, focusing on transparency, documentation, and adaptability to ensure your work is legally protected and respected.

The following two tabs change content below.
Since 1992, Catherine Cavella, Esq. Her focus on Trademark Law and Copyright Law for the last few decades gives her deep insights into the fundamental principles behind the rules. Catherine regularly writes about new developments in trademark law, copyright law, and internet law.