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Federal judge says AI-generated art can’t be copyrighted in ruling that may impact Hollywood studios

In a decision that could have major consequences for Hollywood studios — especially amid the ongoing strikes — a federal judge ruled Friday that AI-generated artwork can’t be copyrighted, per The Hollywood Reporter. United States District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell oversaw a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Copyright Office after it refused a copyright to Stephen Thaler for an AI-generated image he made with Creativity Machine, Thaler’s own AI system. In the recent ruling, Howell upheld the Copyright Office’s decision to reject Thaler’s copyright application.

Howell said humans are an “essential part of a valid copyright claim” and “human authorship is a bedrock requirement of copyright.” She also cited past cases, including the famous “monkey selfie” case, in which photographer David Slater was sued for claiming copyright on an image a crested macaque took with Slater’s camera.

However, Howell also acknowledged that humanity is “approaching new frontiers in copyright,” especially as more creatives use AI as a tool to create new work. She suggested that future cases could become more complex and “will prompt challenging questions regarding how much human input is necessary to qualify the user of an AI system as an ‘author’ of a generated work.”

The recent ruling comes in the midst of an actors and a writers strike, where AI in entertainment is a main issue as Hollywood creatives fear that such new technology could replace their jobs in the near future.

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