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Midjourney Copyright Questions After Court Says No To AI

'Midjourney Copyright' is a Topic on Peoples Minds


Judging by its hot status on keyword lists 'Midjourney copyright' is a big topic on peoples minds. One story in February from Forbes announces that the United States wont allow authors who use generative tools like Midjourney or DALL-E 2 to hold a Copyright.

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Zarya of the Dawn, was not eligible for copyright protection

The U.S. Copyright Office has declared that illustrations created by the AI program Midjourney for a new comic book, Zarya of the Dawn, are not eligible for copyright protection, according to a letter issued by the Copyright Office. The ruling only applies to the illustrations, as the text of the comic book remains protected by American copyright law. The comic book's author, Kristina Kashtanova, did not disclose that the illustrations were made by an AI image generator when applying for copyright protection. The Copyright Office's decision reflects the current limitations of U.S. copyright law, which only grants protection to images created by humans. This ruling comes as artificial intelligence tools become increasingly common in the world of content creation.

Questions About the Ownership of Intellectual Property Created by Machines

To be sure while the ruling only applies to the specific case of Zarya of the Dawn, this copyright court drama raises questions about the ownership of intellectual property created by machines. Getty Images is currently suing Stability AI over its use of copyrighted images to train its AI models. As companies continue to navigate this new world of AI-generated content, lawsuits are likely to proliferate. The U.S. Copyright Office's decision underscores the fact that, under current U.S. copyright law, only images created by humans can be protected.

Our Position On the Issue of Midjourney Copyright

Our position on the issue of Midjourney copyright is still very clear here at We are of the opinion that generative AI when operated by a person is very much like driving in the cab of an excavator. You don't actually move things, but rather by using the knobs and switches a driver is 'working' to move real things. The generative AI does the actual lifting or 'working' by moving the large loads of 'creative' content much like a excavator. An excavator is a tool that allows a human to do orders of magnitude more physical labor in a fixed amount of time. Ai is a tool that processes creative labor using a new technology based on language modules rather then hydraulics to expedite the process.

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Language Model May have Been Trained on 'Scrapped Data'

What the court seems to miss here is that these AI generated images are only possible with human involvement. People are necessary both in training the massive models that are utilized for the generation procedures and again in generating the final output. Secondly just because the language module may have been trained on 'scrapped data' doesn't automatically make it plagiarism. This 'training' of AI is very similar to students following curriculums in our art schools.

Learning how to create art requires students to study other artists and examples of their artwork. When you are learning art in a college or art school you learn to mimic or copy other artists styles, that is part and parcel with the process of learning. Training AI with hundreds of thousands of images paired with word tags is not unlike sending that AI to an art school. Imagine that those hundreds of thousands of images could represent a digital curriculum.

The AI is Just a Tool Like an Excavator

What the judge in the copyright case points out very correctly is that the generative AI software cant hold a copyright. This is a fact. Now that said, what the judge doesn't acknowledge in this generative AI copyright lawsuit is that the AI is just a tool like an excavator. In this case Kristina Kashtanova the author of a comic book called Zarya of the Dawn lost dominion over illustration work she did with a generative AI tool called Midjourney. Because the judge chose to myopically focus on the issue of whether or not a machine can hold a copyright so ultimately Kristina lost her case.

If you are an author or creative and you have questions about Midjourney copyright or your rights to the ownership of intellectual property in general. We invite you to contact us here at, we don't give legal advise. We are always updating this site with information about the law surrounding generative AI. Add your voice to the conversation.