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Most AI-generated art is automatically public domain

Every major legal jurisdiction requires human authorship to some extent. Art and text generated from a prompt is very unlikely to be protected by copyright.

This means that anybody can copy and make money off AI-generated works you ‘create’ and you can’t stop them.

Treat AI art and text as non-exclusive

Because of its lack of copyright protection, it’s more appropriate to think of AI works as non-exclusive. Treat them as you would a work provided by a stock art service.

Some AI-generated art is protected

If the generated art or text is integrated into a larger work that is human-authored, then the work as a whole is usually protected.

If you arrange generated works in specific ways, the arrangement is protected—but not the works themselves.

If an AI generates a work from another human-authored work, then the resulting output is a derivative work of the original and is likely to be protected.

Integration into productivity software is vital

By integrating the generation process into a larger writing or creative tool, the work is more likely to be the result of a mix of AI and human work and get copyright protection.

This is not legal advice

Always trust the opinions of a real lawyer over some guy on the internet.


Cover for the book 'The Intelligence Illusion'

These cards were made by Baldur Bjarnason.

They are based on the research done for the book The Intelligence Illusion: a practical guide to the business risks of Generative AI .

AI-Generated Art: Who Owns the Copyright?” The Lighthouse, January 1. https://lighthouse.mq.edu.au/article/december-2019/AI-generated-art-who-owns-the-copyright.
“Copyright Registration Guidance: Works Containing Material Generated by Artificial Intelligence.” Federal Register, March 2023. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/03/16/2023-05321/copyright-registration-guidance-works-containing-material-generated-by-artificial-intelligence.
Gryspeerdt, Pieter De Grauwe and Sacha. “Artificial Intelligence (AI): The Qualification of AI Creations as "Works" Under EU Copyright Law.” Gevers, June 2022. https://www.gevers.eu/blog/artificial-intelligence/artificial-intelligence-ai-the-qualification-of-ai-creations-as-works-under-eu-copyright-law/.
Hugenholtz, P. Bernt, and João Pedro Quintais. “Copyright and Artificial Creation: Does EU Copyright Law Protect AI-Assisted Output?” IIC - International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 52, no. 9 (October 2021): 1190–1216. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40319-021-01115-0.
Magazine, Smithsonian, and Jane Recker. “U.S. Copyright Office Rules A.I. Art Can’t Be Copyrighted.” Smithsonian Magazine, 2023. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/us-copyright-office-rules-ai-art-cant-be-copyrighted-180979808/.
Robertson, Adi. “The US Copyright Office Says an AI Can’t Copyright Its Art.” The Verge, February 2022. https://www.theverge.com/2022/2/21/22944335/us-copyright-office-reject-ai-generated-art-recent-entrance-to-paradise.
White, Courtney, and Rita Matulionyte. “Artificial Intelligence Painting The Bigger Picture For Copyright Ownership.”. Rochester, NY, December 2019. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3498673.
“Who Owns the Copyright in AI-Generated Art?” Murgitroyd, European Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys, October 2022. https://www.murgitroyd.com/en-us/blog/who-owns-the-copyright-in-ai-generated-art/.