Should AI-generated content be protected by copyright?

Reflections on Copyright in Works of Artificial Intelligence: Copyright and Artificial Intelligence Battle on the Horizon

Artificial Intelligence – Resembling Human Brain” by deepakiqlect is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

With the continuous accumulation of big data and the rapid development of mobile Internet, artificial intelligence has become one of the core technologies of the global technological revolution. The development of AI technology has had a huge impact on news media, publishing industry and network engines, and AI can directly generate works instead of human authors. As a result, AI’s creations have been questioned and refuted in copyright judgment and attribution. Traditional copyright law is usually in effect for the creator of the work, AI algorithms generate content that does not have a creator but is created by the system’s automation, which is not in line with the protection of copyright law. The main criteria for determining whether a work should be copyrighted is to determine the reproducibility and originality of the creation. In fact, AI’s creations are consistent with reproducibility and originality in a work, but there is no clear copyright of the work that determines that AI’s work will be protected.

Are articles generated by artificial intelligence original?

In determining whether an AI creation should be protected by copyright, it is important to first analyze the originality of the AI product. As AI algorithms are used to generate more and more content, it enables AI systems to analyze and understand human language and create content that mimics human language. The difficulty of distinguishing AI content from that created by humans raises questions about the originality and authenticity of AI content. The current stage of AI is a weak AI, which does not perfectly display the originality of the work in the content, and its expression is generated by splicing, fabrication and secondary innovation under the integration of big data, which is very different from the nature of human originality. This also means that AI-generated creations do not meet the standard reproducibility of works, and copyright does not protect content that is false information. As a result, the authenticity of AI-generated articles is once again being questioned, and some of the generated content contains false information and misleads the public, creating a problem of information confusion for society.

Artificial Intelligence Copyright Infringement Model

Digital copyright is ubiquitous on the web, and a complex system of ownership, control, and liability looms over the entire digital environment(Gray,J, 2020). After an early legal battle in which Google was reported by multiple website owners and media outlets to have infringed on their copyrights, Google has been pursuing laws and policies that support a highly profitable business model that protects the individual interests of online creators while ensuring the public good and social progress. The issue of copyright infringement caused by AI-generated content has been confusing to the public, and it has been impossible to define exactly who will be held liable for AI infringement. For example, in early 2023, TikTok, Spotify, and YouTube removed an AI-generated song that mimicked the voices of rapper Drake and R&B singer The Weeknd. This was an infringement of an AI product due to the fault of both the producer and the user. The producers failed to fulfill their duty to warn users during the production process using AI, and the rapid distribution on the Internet affected the personal interests of the original producers, whose distribution platforms have basic legal and moral responsibilities.

The importance of recognizing the subject matter of AI copyrights

The premise of copyright protection for AI-generated works is to determine who is the subject of the copyright grant. If the content generated by AI is created by humans using AI tools, then the copyright is likely to be owned by the person using the AI tools; if the AI is provided by a large organization such as a company, then the holder of the copyright belongs to the company. As things stand, AI does not have an autonomous consciousness, it is a work created by humans through the Internet. Therefore, AI is only a tool to assist humans in creating works, and the formation of works is created by both humans and AI. Nowadays, the AI is becoming more and more capable of generating a completely new work through a short prompt from a human, and its creativity is unknown because the creativity of the AI belongs ultimately to the person who uses the AI, and by constantly transmitting inspirations to the AI, it is actually the person who uses the AI who possesses the creativity, which is expressed through a meticulous language. For example, in August 2022, Jason Allen, an American game designer, won first prize at the Colorado State Fair in the digital art category for a piece of art he created using the AI software Midjourney. And after he applied for copyright protection, the U.S. Copyright Office’s Board of Review refused to copyright the AI-generated artwork because it lacked the human authorship required for registration. The copyright review concluded that the entire image did not qualify for copyright protection.

How should copyright in AI works be defined in the future?

Artificial intelligence may still be able to obtain copyright protection in the future. There is no doubt about the creativity of artificial intelligence, and in the future, technical support may provide AI works with appropriate digital certificates to prove the ownership of rights to the works, or apply for intellectual property patent system for their works. However, this does not mean that all AI works will be protected by copyright. Regulators will still categorize and evaluate AI-generated content, limiting and removing highly repetitive works. The standards for measuring the originality of AI works should be as stringent as those for reviewing original human works. Using the same cue words in the same AI tool can lead to highly similar creative content. To avoid the problem of multiple infringements, copyright protection could prioritize the protection of the first release of AI content and only pursue legal liability for subsequent overlapping AI creations. This will not only protect the rights and dignity of human beings in the development of science and technology, but also protect human creativity and intellectual achievements.

Final thoughts

AI creations have a significant impact on reality, and to ignore the protection of AI creations is also to ignore the creativity of humans themselves. With the development of the digital environment, AI creations will be copied and plagiarized without being protected by copyright, setting off academic chaos in public areas. Therefore, copyright protection of AI content is advancing cultural development and technological progress. Nowadays, there is still a big problem in recognizing the works of AI creations if they are strictly in accordance with the copyright regulations. The application and capability of AI have not yet reached a high standard, and the authenticity of AI creations is still being questioned even though the contents are almost indistinguishable from the works created by human beings. Therefore, for AI’s works to be protected, their technology and vetting capabilities need to be strengthened. In addition, it is important to consider the technology’s definition and value of originality in content creation, ensuring that AI technology is used in an ethical and responsible manner, which benefits both the protection of individual interests and the interests of society.


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“Drake and the Weeknd AI Song Pulled from Spotify and Apple.” BBC News, 18 Apr. 2023,

Edwards, Benj. “US Rejects AI Copyright for Famous State Fair-Winning Midjourney Art.” Ars Technica, 11 Sept. 2023, Accessed 7 Oct. 2023.

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Posted by: Xue Wantong(SID 520400483)