Photographers should own the copyright to their AI-generated photos

A few months ago, the United States Copyright Office denied Steven Thaler’s request to copyright an image in the name of an algorithm he dubbed the Creativity Machine. .

Thaler’s goal was to test the office to see if it would copyright an artificially intelligent (AI) machine. The United States Copyright Office found that Thaler’s AI-created image did not include an element of “human authorship” — a necessary standard, he said, for the protection. The decision determined that only humans can protect images in the United States and that images created by AI cannot be copyrighted.

While Thaler, who has now filed a lawsuit, can mess things up, it poses a problem for creators and photographers using programs like the Dall-E 2.

As featured on PetaPixel, photographer Mathieu Stern spent days creating AI portraits of people who don’t exist. Stern should obtain copyright for his work, as it was his creativity and knowledge of photography that helped create these works.

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

In fact, Stern didn’t just use Dall-E 2 to create the images. He imported the images into Photoshop and used his Neural Filters, Adobe’s own AI add-ons, to complete the work.

At no point did these portraits created by Stern ever involve him pulling out a camera and taking pictures, but it was his vision, artistry and expertise that went into these artificially created photographs.

“Technically I created these images, but I can’t say I own the copyright…so it’s unclear right now,” Stern says.

Interestingly, on the Dall-E website, under the terms of service, it says that OpenAI, the creators of Dall-E 2, owns the builds created, and the program is for personal use and non-commercial only.

“As between the parties and to the extent permitted by law, OpenAI owns all generations, and you own your downloads, excluding generations in the downloads,” reads the terms.

Of course, this “law” is currently ambiguous.

Give Photographers Copyright

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

Authorities are unsure how to move forward with AI copyright, and more cases like Thaler’s will be before the US Copyright Board sooner rather than later.

PetaPixel the champions of photography and all those who create the image. That’s why I’m urging the US Copyright Office to grant photographers copyright in the AI-generated photos they create.


Picture credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.

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