A US court in Washington, D.C. has ruled that only works with human authors can receive copyrights. The ruling was in favor of the US Copyright Office, which had rejected an application by computer scientist Stephen Thaler for visual art he said was created by his AI system DABUS without any human input.
The judge in the case, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, said that human authorship is a “bedrock requirement of copyright” based on “centuries of settled understanding.” She also noted that the Copyright Act does not explicitly define “author” and that the definition has traditionally been understood to mean a human being.
Thaler had argued that the Copyright Act should be interpreted to include works created by AI. He said that DABUS is a “creative machine” that is capable of generating original works of art. However, the judge rejected this argument, saying that DABUS is simply a tool that can be used by humans to create art.
The ruling is a setback for Thaler, who has been trying to obtain copyright protection for works created by DABUS. However, the case raises important questions about the future of copyright law in the age of artificial intelligence. As AI becomes more sophisticated, it is likely that we will see more and more works created by machines. It remains to be seen how the law will adapt to this new reality.
What is DABUS
DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience) is an artificial intelligence (AI) system created by Stephen Thaler. It’s a patented AI paradigm capable of accommodating trillions of computational neurons within extensive artificial neural systems that emulate the limbo-thalamo-cortical loop within the mammalian brain.
DABUS reportedly conceived of two novel products — a food container constructed using fractal geometry, which enables rapid reheating, and a flashing beacon for attracting attention in an emergency. The filing of patent applications designating DABUS as inventor has led to decisions by patent offices and courts on whether a patent can be granted for an invention reportedly made by an AI system.
For instance, in South Africa, DABUS was awarded a patent for a food container based on fractal geometry that improves grip and heat transfer. This marked a significant milestone as it was the world’s first patent awarded to an AI system.
However, the use of AI as an inventor has sparked debates and legal battles in different jurisdictions. For example, in Australia, the Federal Court ruled that only a natural person can be an inventor for the purposes of the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) and the Patents Regulations 1991 (Cth), and that such an inventor must be identified for any person to be entitled to a grant of a patent.
In conclusion, DABUS represents a significant development in the field of AI, pushing the boundaries of what machines are capable of inventing and raising important questions about intellectual property rights in the era of AI.
(1) DABUS – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DABUS.
(2) The year that was for DABUS, the world’s first AI ‘inventor’. https://www.insidetechlaw.com/blog/the-year-that-was-for-dabus-the-worlds-first-ai-inventor.
(3) South Africa approves world’s first patent with AI inventor. https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/south-africa-approves-worlds-first-patent-with-ai-inventor/.
(4) Meet DABUS: The world’s first AI system to be awarded a patent. https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/digital/meet-dabus-the-worlds-first-ai-system-to-be-awarded-a-patent/85149000.
(5) The Artificial Inventor Project. https://artificialinventor.com/.