robot hand reaching out to human hand

Photographers should own the copyright to their AI-generated photos

robot hand reaching for human hand

A few months ago, the US Copyright Office rejected Steven Thaler’s request to copyright a photo on behalf of an algorithm he called the Creativity Machine.

Thaler’s goal was to test the office to see if they would grant copyright to an artificially intelligent (AI) machine. The United States Copyright Office found that Thaler’s AI-created image contained no element of “human authorship” — a necessary standard, it said, for protection. The ruling ruled that only humans can copyright images in the United States, and images created by AI cannot be copyrighted.

While Thaler, who filed a lawsuit now?can cause mischief, it does raise a problem for creators and photographers who use programs like the Dall-E 2

As mentioned on PetaPixelphotographer Mathieu Stern spent days creating AI portraits of people who don’t exist† Stern should be given copyright on his work, as it was his creativity and knowledge of photography that helped create these works of art.

Photorealistic portrait created by AI
AI-generated portrait, created by Mathieu Stern

Stern didn’t just use Dall-E 2 to create the images. He imported the images into Photoshop and used the neural filers, Adobe’s proprietary AI add-ons, to complete the works.

In these portraits that Stern did, he was at no point involved in taking a camera and shooting, but it was his vision, his artistry, and his expertise that went into these artificially created photos.

“Technically I made these images, but I can’t say I own the copyright…so it’s not clear at this point,” Stern says.

Interestingly, on Dall-E’s website, under terms of usestates that OpenAI, the makers of Dall-E 2, owns the generations created and that the program is for personal, non-commercial use only.

“As between the parties and to the extent permitted by law, OpenAI owns all generations, and you own your uploads, excluding generations within uploads,” the terms read.

Of course, that “law” is currently ambiguous.

Give photographers the copyright

Technology moves faster than the law, and artificial intelligence is no exception. This is why we are currently at a crossroads, with many different options ahead of us.

Authorities don’t know how to move forward with AI copyright, and more cases like Thaler’s will come before the US Copyright Board sooner or later.

PetaPixel champions of photographers and anyone who shoots images. That’s why I’m urging the US Copyright Office to grant photographers the copyright to AI-generated photos they take.


Image Credits: Header photo licensed through Depositphotos

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