Disrupting Creativity: Copyright Law in the Age of Generative Artificial Intelligence

62 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2022 Last revised: 19 Dec 2023

See all articles by Ryan Abbott

Ryan Abbott

University of Surrey School of Law; University of California, Los Angeles - David Geffen School of Medicine

Elizabeth Rothman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: August 8, 2022


Over the last few years, due largely to breakthroughs in deep learning technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to step into the shoes of human content generators and make valuable creative works at scale. Before the end of the decade, a significant amount of art, literature, music, software, and web content will likely be created by AI rather than traditional human authors. Yet the law lags behind this technological evolution by prohibiting copyright protection for AI-generated works. The predominant narrative holds that even if AI can automate creativity, this activity is not the right sort of thing to protect, and that protection would even harm human artists.

AI-generated works challenge beliefs about human exceptionalism and the normative foundations of copyright law, which until now have offered something for everyone. Copyright can be about ethics and authors and protecting the sweat of a brow and personality rights. Copyright can also be about the public interest and offering incentives to create and disseminate content. But copyright cannot have it all with AI authors—there is valuable output being generated, but by authors with no interests to protect.

This Article argues that American copyright law is, and has traditionally been, primarily about benefiting the public interest rather than benefiting authors directly. As a result, AI-generated works are precisely the sort of thing the system aims to protect. Protection will encourage people to develop and use creative AI which will result in the production and dissemination of new works. Taken further, attributing authorship to AI that functionally does the work of a traditional author will promote transparency, efficient allocations of rights, and even counterintuitively protect human authors. AI-generated works also promise to radically impact other fundamental tenets of copyright law such as infringement, protection of style, and fair use. How the law should respond to AI activity has lessons more broadly for thinking about what rules should apply to people, machines, and other sorts of artificial authors.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, AI art, generative art, copyright law, intellectual property rights

Suggested Citation

Abbott, Ryan Benjamin and Rothman, Elizabeth, Disrupting Creativity: Copyright Law in the Age of Generative Artificial Intelligence (August 8, 2022). Fla. L. Rev. Vol. 75, Issue 6, 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4185327 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4185327

Ryan Benjamin Abbott (Contact Author)

University of Surrey School of Law ( email )

Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH
United Kingdom

University of California, Los Angeles - David Geffen School of Medicine ( email )

1000 Veteran Avenue, Box 956939
Los Angeles, CA 90095-6939
United States

Elizabeth Rothman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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