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Who owns AI art?

In 2022, James Allen filed a copyright application for an image titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” or “Space Opera Theater.” While the picture had the look of a detailed sci-fi painting, Allen had actually created it through painstaking experimentation in the AI image generator Midjourney; he described using over 600 prompt variations to get the look he wanted. But the US Copyright Office wasn’t impressed. In a series of decisions, Allen’s work became one of the first copyright requests rejected specifically for using AI tools — and an example of how these tools are raising new copyright conundrums at virtually every turn.

Generative AI programs — particularly image generators like Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and DALL-E — have raised…

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