Who doesn’t want a system that does everything for them or any technology that makes their job simpler? All of us do!
So the plethora of writing and publishing “experts” offering webinars and free and paid training on using article intelligence (AI) to create your next book should come as no surprise. But, as always, I want to save you the heartache of having your book taken out of distribution and losing money, credibility, and profits from what the so-called experts are not telling you. (Honestly, many of them don’t know this.)
Reuters (Person & Brittain, 2023)* reported that images in a graphic novel created using the artificial intelligence system Midjourney should not have been granted copyright protection, the U.S. Copyright Office said. “Zarya of the Dawn” author Kris Kashtanova is entitled to a copyright for the parts of the book Kashtanova wrote and arranged but not for the images produced by Midjourney, the office said in its letter dated Tuesday, February 21, 2023.
The decision is one of the first by a U.S. court or agency on the scope of copyright protection for works created with AI and comes amid the meteoric rise of generative AI software like Midjourney, Dall-E, and ChatGPT. The Copyright Office said in its letter that it would reissue its registration for “Zarya of the Dawn” to omit images that “are not the product of human authorship” and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted.
The Copyright Office told Kashtanova in October 2022 it would reconsider the book’s copyright registration because the application did not disclose Midjourney’s role. The office said on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, that it would grant copyright protection for the book’s text and the way Kashtanova selected and arranged its elements. But it said Kashtanova was not the “mastermind” behind the images themselves. “The fact that Midjourney’s specific output cannot be predicted by users makes Midjourney different for copyright purposes than other tools used by artists,” the letter said.
So what does that mean for authors and publishers? Examining what copyright is should provide clarity.
Copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship, such as books, music, and artwork, from unauthorized use. Copyright law grants authors the exclusive right to use and distribute their work and the right to control its use by others. Any use of copyrighted material without permission or proper attribution (proper credited use of copyrighted information) can result in legal action.
The line between original and derivative work may become blurred with AI technology. AI programs can analyze vast amounts of data, including books, articles, and other published materials, and generate new content based on the patterns and structures they discover. While the resulting content may be novel, it could infringe on existing copyright if it borrows heavily from copyrighted works.
In response to these concerns, some publishers have implemented strict guidelines for using AI-generated content in their publications. For example, the Associated Press (AP) has developed an AI tool called Automated Insights, which can generate news articles quickly and efficiently. However, the AP has stated that it only uses the tool to generate routine, factual stories and that human editors review all content to ensure it does not violate copyright laws.
Similarly, many self-publishing platforms, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, require authors to attest that their work is original and does not infringe on any existing copyright. These platforms also reserve the right to remove any content that violates copyright laws. Authors and publishers, be forewarned.
*Person, & Brittain, B. (2023, February 23). AI-created images lose U.S. copyrights in test for New Technology. Reuters. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from https://www.reuters.com/legal/ai-created-images-lose-us-copyrights-test-new-technology-2023-02-22/.