According to a document obtained by Reuters from the U.S. Copyright Office, images in a graphic novel that were produced by the artificial intelligence program Midjourney shouldn’t have been given copyright protection.

The office stated in its letter, dated Tuesday, that “Zarya of the Dawn” author Kris Kashtanova is not eligible to a copyright for the images created by Midjourney, only for the portions of the book Kashtanova wrote and organized.

The decision, which comes amid the meteoric rise of generative AI software like Midjourney, Dall-E, and ChatGPT, is one of the first by a U.S. court or agency on the scope of copyright protection for works produced with AI.

In its letter, the Copyright Office announced that it would revise “Zarya of the Dawn” to remove any images that “are not the result of human authorship” and are thus ineligible for copyright protection.

Regarding the choice, the Copyright Office declined to remark.

The fact that the office permitted copyright protection for the plot of the book and the arrangement of the images was hailed by Kashtanova on Wednesday as “great news,” adding that it “covers a lot of uses for the people in the AI art community.”

The best way to advance the claim that the images themselves were a “direct representation of my creativity and therefore copyrightable,” Kashtanova said, was under consideration.

The decision, according to Max Sills, general counsel for Midjourney, is “a tremendous win for Kris, Midjourney, and artists,” and the Copyright Office “clearly stating that if an artist exercises creative control over an image generating tool like Midjourney…the output is protectable.”

An AI-based program called Midjourney creates images from text prompts submitted by users. “Zarya of the Dawn” was written by Kashtanova, and Midjourney used cues to produce the book’s images.

The application failed to reveal Midjourney’s role, and the Copyright Office informed Kashtanova in October that it would review the book’s copyright registration.

The office declared on Tuesday that it would provide copyright protection for the content of the book as well as the way Kashtanova chose and put its components in order. However, it was stated that Kashtanova was not the “master mind” behind the actual pictures.

According to the letter, Midjourney is distinct from other tools used by artists for copyright reasons because the specific output it produces cannot be predicted by users.


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