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Artwork created by artificial intelligence (AI) is not eligible for copyright protection in the United States, a federal judge has ruled.

The decision, which is the first of its kind in the country, is a setback for the creators of AI-generated art, who had hoped to protect their work from unauthorized copying and use.

The case involved an artist named Stephen Thaler, who filed a copyright registration for a two-dimensional artwork created by his AI program “Creativity Machine.” The Copyright Office denied the registration, finding that the work was not “original” because it was created by a machine without any human input.

Thaler challenged the decision in court, arguing that the Copyright Office’s definition of “originality” was too narrow and that AI-generated art should be protected under copyright law. However, the judge disagreed, finding that the Copyright Office’s definition was “consistent with the long-standing understanding of originality” in copyright law.

The judge’s ruling is a significant development in the legal landscape for AI-generated art. It is likely to have a chilling effect on the creation and commercialization of AI-generated art, as creators will now be less likely to invest time and resources into creating work that they cannot protect under copyright law.

The ruling also raises questions about the future of copyright law in the age of artificial intelligence. As AI becomes more sophisticated, it is likely to create works that are increasingly creative and original. It remains to be seen how copyright law will adapt to these new challenges.

In the meantime, the ruling in this case is a reminder that AI-generated art is not currently protected under copyright law. Creators of AI-generated art should be aware of this risk and take steps to protect their work, such as by using non-disclosure agreements and watermarks.