AI and Copyright Registration

registration and ai

If you’re feeling confused about copyright and artificial intelligence, you’re not alone. Many of the issues and conflicts related to this topic are going to work their way through lawsuits and policy changes over the next few years. Meanwhile, the Copyright Office has issued guidelines for registering a work that contains some element(s) produced with generative artificial intelligence (GAI). Although the guidelines themselves are a bit confusing, here are some key points:

Registration Requires Human Authorship

First, be aware that the Copyright Office position is that any material entirely produced by GAI (i.e., has no human authorship) is not protected under U.S. copyright law, and they will not register it. Material produced through a combination of human authorship and GAI may be protectable, if the human authorship is sufficient. So, the Copyright Office requests that an applicant disclose anything in their work that was produced by AI and to describe the human authorship that was added. 

Disclaiming AI in a Registration Application

The Copyright Office guidance on how to communicate this is based on the same principle as limiting your claim—i.e., a way of telling the Copyright Office that some element(s) of the work are not your authorship. A simple example might be a book you wrote with illustrations produced by GAI. Just like any other Limit of Claim, you can tell the Office that you are claiming copyright in the Text and are disclaiming copyright in the Artwork thus:

registration and ai

Additionally, you can further explain to the Office that what is being disclaimed is GAI material. So, for instance, in a note to the Examiner/Specialist, with the above example, you might write, “The illustrations in this book were created using artificial intelligence.” You need not be more detailed than that.

Alternatively, you might register a book containing your writing, some artwork you created, and some artwork that was produced with GAI. Here, you would state that, in addition to the Text, you both claim and disclaim Artwork thus:

registration and ai

And then, you would tell the Office something like, “Some of the artwork was created using artificial intelligence.”

A more nuanced example might be a single visual work that combines your authorship with the use of GAI. Here the limit of claim page might look like this:

registration and ai

But in your description to the Office, this is where it is important to emphasize your contributions to the work. Again, you may not need to go into elaborate detail. The goal is to make a good-faith declaration that at least some aspect of the work was generated by artificial intelligence and some by human authorship.