AI copyright debate continues as UK Supreme Court rules against AI inventor



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US computer scientist Stephen Thaler has lost another AI copyright case.

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that AI cannot be considered an “inventor” for patent purposes, unanimously rejecting Thaler’s appeal. Thaler sought to register two patents for inventions created by his AI system, DABUS. The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) initially rejected his application, stating that an inventor must be a person or a company.

The Supreme Court’s decision is in line with similar rulings in Europe, Australia and the United States. Thaler’s lawyers argue that the ruling reveals the inadequacy of UK patent law to protect AI-generated inventions and to support industries that rely on AI for technology development.

Thaler doesn’t give up yet

In August, Thaler’s attempt to enforce copyright on AI-generated content was rejected by U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell, who sided with the U.S. Copyright Office’s position that AI images cannot be copyrighted. Thaler, a member of the Artificial Inventor Project, argued that his AI image, “A Recent Entrance to Paradise,” was a commissioned work by his AI system, the Creativity Machine.

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Judge Howell argued that human authorship is a fundamental requirement for copyright. However, she noted that current copyright law is reaching new frontiers with AI in the arts, suggesting that future rulings will need to address the extent of human involvement required for copyright in AI-generated works.

Both rulings don’t provide much insight into the broader issue of AI copyright, as Thaler had deliberately insisted that he had no involvement in the creation of the image and that the machine was the inventor or creator. The judge noted that future cases will need to clarify the level of human involvement required for AI-generated works to be copyrightable.

The Beijing Internet Court recently recognized the copyright of an AI-generated image. The plaintiff had used Stable Diffusion to create a photorealistic image and shared it on a social platform.

A blogger distributed the image without permission, and the plaintiff filed a copyright infringement lawsuit. The court ruled that the AI-generated image was copyrighted because it reflected the plaintiff’s original intellectual investment.

This decision may serve as a precedent for future copyright disputes involving AI-generated content.

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