In one new court ruling, a federal judge has ruled work created by artificial intelligence is not able to be copyrighted.
In a new ruling that could deal a major blow to Hollywood studios, a federal judge has ruled works created by artificial intelligence are not copyrightable. Friday, district court judge Beryl Howell upheld a previous ruling from the United States Copyright Office that said only human-created work is able to receive copyright protection.
“In the absence of any human involvement in the creation of the work, the clear and straightforward answer is the one given by the Register: No,” Howell wrote in her ruling (via Rolling Stone) before adding copyright law currently “protects only works of human creation.”
The ruling could work in the favor of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA in ongoing labor disputes, given studios are all but guaranteed to use artificial intelligence if, and only if, the end results could be copyrighted. The use of AI continues to be a sticking point in negotiations, with studios reportedly wanting to use AI technology to assist in the production process.
“This ‘groundbreaking’ AI proposal that they gave us yesterday: they propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation,” SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland previously said of the technology. “So if you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”
Why is the WGA striking?
Neither the Screen Actors Guild or Writers Guild of America have yet to come to terms with the AMPTP. WGA officials spoke with their counterparts from the AMPTP earlier this month for the first time since the strike began in May, though talks broke down once again after a single meeting.
“The WGA Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing,” the WGA said earlier this year. “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”