The Copyright Office has determined that applications for copyright registration of works containing content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise, and the nuances of authorship as they pertain to AI often cause problems for the applicants. See this recent article by Lauren Byrne (another Hovey Williams LLP associate) for an example of the cancelation of a registered work incorporating AI-generated content and the subsequent re-issuance of a limited copyright registration. In short, the author did not disclose that AI was used for certain aspects of the registered work.
To reduce applicant confusion and increase the rate of appropriately-filed copyright applications, the Copyright Office has provided some guidance on registering works containing material generated by artificial intelligence (AI). The guidance stems from the principle that individuals who use AI in creating a work may claim copyright protection for their own contributions to that work (and not the AI-generated content).
The Copyright Office has clarified that applicants have a duty to disclose the inclusion of AI-generated content. To that end, the guidance explains how the Standard Application should be filled out to properly disclose what aspects of the work were created by the author and what aspects of the work were generated by AI. For example, the Standard Application includes a field for identifying author-created portions and a field for excluding non-de minimis AI-generated content. At a minimum, Applicants may provide a general statement that a work contains AI-generated material, which will trigger a follow-up inquiry from the Copyright Office.
For applications already submitted, applicants should alert the Copyright Office to their omission of the fact their work contains AI-generated content. For applications already resulting in a registration, applicants should submit a supplementary registration by filling out disclosure fields as described above. Applicants who do not disclose AI-generated content risk losing the benefits of registration.