Copyright for works of artificial intelligence sued in USA

Copyright for works of artificial intelligence sued in USA

Can artificial intelligence (AI) create works that enjoy US copyright protection? The competent US authority rejects this. But an American is not giving up and has now filed a lawsuit in a US federal court. He has already suffered a defeat with a similar lawsuit, namely for patent protection for an “invention” of his AI.

The plaintiff’s name is Steven Thaler, studied chemistry and physics, and lives in Missouri. He is the owner of a computer that has, among other things, generated an image called A Recent Entrance to Paradise, as well as two inventions, namely a “Neural Flame” and a “Fractal Container”. Thaler tries to obtain intellectual property protection for images and inventions: the AI ​​is the author or inventor, and he, as the owner of the AI, is entitled to the respective intellectual property rights, says Thaler.

But both the US Patent Office and the Registrar of Copyrighted Works have denied his applications. Thaler also failed with appeals to the responsible administrative authorities: There is no copyright for art made from artificial intelligence. However, the man does not give up. He continues to argue in court.

Thaler’s lawsuit against the Commissioner for Patents, Drew Hirshfeld, was dismissed by the US District Court for Eastern Virginia in September before the opening of a courtroom hearing, and more than clearly (Thaler v. Hirshfeld, U.S. District Court Eastern Virginia, Ref. 1:20-cv-903). However, Thaler has appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (Case 21-02347, Federal Circuit).

Thaler filed another lawsuit on Thursday. This time against Shira Perlmutter, the registrar of the US registry of copyrighted works (Thaler v. Perlmutter, 1:22-cv-01564, US District Court District of Columbia). Thaler argues that copyright law speaks of authorship but doesn’t limit it to humans. He also thinks that copyright protection for AI works is in line with the goals of the law.

In addition to the fundamental question of protecting the work itself, Thaler has to overcome a second hurdle, since he is not the author: How does he get the rights, should they exist? The transfer of intellectual property rights is generally provided for, which usually takes place through an agreement or through inheritance. However, the AI ​​can neither own rights nor make contracts or wills. Thaler tries to circumvent this by owning the “creative” computer. A success for Thaler in court would be a sensation.


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