Zarya of the Dawn AI image copyright ownership

Occurred: October 2022

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AI-generated images used in the comic book Zarya of the Dawn should not have been granted copyright protection, the US Copyright Office has ruled (pdf).

The Office stated that Kashtanova 'is the author of the Work’s text as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the Work’s written and visual elements,' and that her authorship is protected by copyright. But, it said, 'the images in the Work that were generated by the Midjourney technology are not the product of human authorship,' and that copyright should only cover 'the expressive material that she created.'

Generative AI systems such as Midjourney, Dall-E, Novel AI, Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT have fueled persistent suspicions and complaints amongst creative communities about the use of their work without permission or acknowledgement.

The Copyright Office had originally granted Kashtanova the right to copyright register the book in September 2022. But a month later, having seen Kashtanova stating on social media that the book's images had been produced using AI-image generator Midjourney, it said would reconsider its decision because the application had failed to disclose Midjourney's role.

In November 2022, Kashtanova had appealed the Copyright Office's decision to reconsider the application. She contrived to say the Office's final decision was 'great news', and that it covers 'a lot of uses for the people in the AI art community.'

Operator: Kris Kashtanova
Developer: Kris Kashtanova; Midjourney

Country: USA

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts 

Purpose: Generate images

Technology: Text-to-image; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Copyright; Ethics

Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2023