In what may be the first time, a New York-based artist named Kris Kashtanova received U.S. copyright registration on her graphic novel that features AI-generated artwork, according to their feed of Instagram and confirmed through a search in Ars Technica’s public records.
The inscription, effective September 15, applies to a comic called Zarya of Dawn. Kashtanova created the artwork for zarya using Midjourney, a commercial image synthesis service. In their post announcing the news on Tuesday, Kashtanova wrote:
I obtained the copyright from the Copyright Office of the USA on my graphic novel generated by Ai. I was open about how it was made and put Midjourney on the cover. It has not been altered in any other way. Just like you saw it here.
I’ve tried to argue that we own the copyrights when we make something using AI. I recorded it as a visual arts work. My certificate is in the mail and today I received the number and a confirmation that it has been approved.
My lawyer friend gave me this idea and I decided to make a precedent.
Following their announcement, Kashtanova approached the recording saying the artwork was AI-assisted and not created entirely by AI. Kashtanova wrote the history of the comic, created the layout and made artistic choices to put the images together.
It is likely that artists have already recorded works created by machines or algorithms because the history of generative art dates back to the 1960s. But this is the first time we know that an artist has registered a copyright for the art created by the recent series of image synthesis models fueled by latent diffusion, which has been the subject of controversy among the artists.
Speculation that AI artwork may be copyrighted has been the subject of many articles in recent months and just yesterday we wrote on Getty Images that it banned AI-generated artwork on its site for unresolved copyright and ethics issues.
Despite the popular misconception (explained in the Getty piece), the United States Copyright Office has not ruled against copyright on AI artwork. Instead, it ruled out copyright registered to an AI as an author rather than as a human.
Zarya of Dawn, which features a main character with an eerie resemblance to actress Zendaya, is available for free through the AI Comic Books website. This is a developing story and we will update it as more details emerge.