Franklin Graves is an in-house technology, IP, and media law attorney in Nashville, TN and Tech Counsel for HCA Healthcare. He is a graduate of Belmont University College of Law (J.D.), and Samford University (B.A.). He is a former Young Lawyer Fellow and Young Lawyer Council member with the American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property Law (ABA-IPL). Franklin currently serves as co-chair of the ABA-IPL’s Copyright and Emerging Technology Committee.
On Monday, January 23, the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) Copyright Public Records System (CPRS) reflected that the registration for a graphic novel that was made using the AI text-to-image tool, Midjourney, had been cancelled. The Office has since clarified that the update was a system error (see above note). The USCO previously registered the work in September 2022. However, a month later, and following significant press attention, the Office issued a notice indicating that the registration may be cancelled. With Monday’s development, the cancellation seemed to be final.
In general, the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies has the potential to impact society in many ways. These technologies can automate tasks and make them more efficient, which can lead to job displacement and other economic impacts. They can also be used to make decisions that affect people’s lives, such as in the criminal justice system or in hiring, which raises ethical concerns. Additionally, the development and use of AI and machine learning technologies can raise issues related to privacy and security. What could be a more fitting way to open a 2022 year-in-review article on AI and machine learning than by asking OpenAI’s newly beta-released ChatGPT tool to contribute? The above paragraph was generated using ChatGPT’s conversational, chat-based dialog input. The initial request of ChatGPT was the prompt: “Explain the social impacts of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies over the past year.”
On October 28, Kristina Kashtanova, an artist and artificial intelligence (AI) consultant and researcher, received notice from the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) that the registration for the first issue of her partially AI-generated graphic novel, Zarya Of The Dawn, may be canceled. A month earlier, on September 15, the USCO issued a registration for Kashtanova’s work, which was subsequently widely publicized as the first known instance of an AI-generated work being successfully registered with the USCO. In the USCO’s recent communication, “I was asked to provide details of my process to show that there was substantial human involvement in the process of creation of this graphic novel,” Kashtanova explained by email. When asked to confirm the potential cancellation for Kashtanova’s registration, the USCO provided a written statement saying…“Copyright under U.S. law requires human authorship. The Office will not knowingly grant registration to a work that was claimed to have been created solely by machine with artificial intelligence.”
On June 2, Dr. Stephen Thaler filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. naming as defendants both the United States Copyright Office (USCO) and Shira Perlmutter, in her official capacity as Register of Copyrights and Director of the USCO. The complaint marks the start of a new phase of Thaler’s attempts at obtaining a copyright registration for “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” an AI-generated work that is the output of Thaler’s AI system known as Creativity Machine. Thaler is requesting the district court issue an order that would require the USCO to set aside the Review Board’s decision and reinstate the application for registration of the work. Thaler is also seeking an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The case is Stephen Thaler v. Shira Perlmutter and The United States Copyright Office (1:22-cv-01564) (June 2, 2022).
In an opinion letter dated February 14, 2022, the Review Board of the United States Copyright Office (Review Board) affirmed a decision of the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) denying registration of a two-dimensional artwork generated by Creativity Machine, an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm created by Dr. Stephen Thaler. Established by regulation in 1995, the Review Board is responsible for hearing final administrative appeals following two opportunities for a claimant to appeal copyright registration refusals. Thaler filed an application to register the computer-generated work, “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” on November 3, 2018. On the application, Thaler listed Creativity Machine as the author of the work and indicated himself to be the claimant, with a transfer statement explaining he acquired ownership of the work because of his “ownership of the machine.”
If you follow Reese Witherspoon on Twitter, you may notice she has been tweeting about non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, a lot. She currently features an NFT as her Twitter profile picture (abbreviated “pfp” for those in the know). In October 2021, Witherspoon became a partner in an NFT art collection called World of Women, or WoW, which was created and illustrated by the artist Yam Karkai. Through an auction-style bidding process, the WoW collection is currently available on OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces. As of publication, an individual WoW NFT auction starts at around 7 Ethereum (ETH), the cryptocurrency used to purchase on OpenSea, which currently equates to approximately USD 20,000.