Images in a graphic novel that were created using the artificial intelligence (AI) system Midjourney should not have been granted copyright protection, the US Copyright Office said in a letter seen by Reuters.
Zarya of the Dawn author Kris Kashtanova is entitled to a copyright for the parts of the book she wrote and arranged, but not for the images produced by Midjourney, the office said in a letter on Tuesday.
The decision is one of the first by a US court or agency on the scope of copyright protection for works created with AI, and comes amid the meteoric rise of generative AI software such as Midjourney, Dall-E and ChatGPT.
The letter said that the office would reissue its registration for Zarya of the Dawn to omit images that “are not the product of human authorship” and therefore cannot be copyrighted.
Kashtanova on Wednesday called it “great news” that the office allowed copyright protection for the novel’s story and the way the images were arranged, which she said “covers a lot of uses for the people in the AI art community.”
Kashtanova said she is considering how best to press ahead with the argument that the images themselves are a “direct expression of my creativity and therefore copyrightable.”
Midjourney general counsel Max Sills said the decision was “a great victory.”
Midjourney is an AI-based system that generates images based on text prompts entered by users. Kashtanova wrote the text of Zarya of the Dawn, and Midjourney created the book’s images based on prompts.
The Copyright Office told Kashtanova in October last year it was reconsidering the book’s copyright registration because the application did not disclose Midjourney’s role.
The office said on Tuesday that it would grant copyright protection for the book’s text and the way Kashtanova selected and arranged its elements.
However, it said Kashtanova was not the “master mind” behind the images themselves.
“The fact that Midjourney’s specific output cannot be predicted by users makes Midjourney different for copyright purposes than other tools used by artists,” the letter said.
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