This is an update to a blog post dated February 25, 2022.
On August 18, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia released an Opinion denying Plaintiff Stephen Thaler copyright protection for A Recent Entrance to Paradise, a work of visual art generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) system called the “Creativity Machine.” The U.S. Copyright Office denied copyright registration for the artwork last year due to a lack of human authorship and Thaler filed suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in response, calling the Copyright Office’s decision an “arbitrary, capricious . . . abuse of discretion” that was “not in accordance with the law, unsupported by substantial evidence, and in excess of [the Office’s] statutory authority. . . .” The APA provides for judicial review of a “final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in court” and requires the agency to “defend its actions based on the reasons it gave when it acted.”
While the Court agreed with Thaler that “copyright law has proven malleable” throughout history, the Court opined that “human creativity is the sine qua non at the core of copyrightability, even as that human creativity is channeled through new tools or into new media.” The Court further noted that “[c]opyright has never stretched so far . . . as to protect works generated by new forms of technology operating absent any guiding human hand.” Accordingly, the Court found that the Copyright Office acted properly in denying copyright registration for A Recent Entrance to Paradise, stating that human authorship requirement remains a “bedrock requirement” of copyright.
This case is THALER v. PERLMUTTER, Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office, et al., Civil Action No. 22-1564 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.