Beijing Court Rules AI Artwork Can By Copyrighted

beijing, china, chinese

Beijing judge finds AI-generated artwork containing human intellectual input can be copyrighted in some cases, amidst explosion in AI tools

A Beijing court affirmed the copyright of an image generated by artificial intelligence (AI) in order to affirm the value of the growing industry, the judge who made the ruling has said.

“If no content created with AI models can be considered artwork, this would deal a blow to the industry,” said presiding judge Zhu Ge of the Beijing Internet Court, according to a report from Shanghai-based online news outlet The Paper.

Zhu’s ruling last November, the first of its kind in mainland China, went against judges’ decisions on such matters in other parts of the world.

A US judge last August, for instance, found that an artwork created without human interaction by an AI called the Creativity Machine could not be copyrighted under US law as human authorship was a “bedrock requirement of copyright”.

Image credit: Xiaohongshu/Stable Diffusion
The image in question, left, and three images generated during the process of its creation, right. Image credit: Xiaohongshu/Stable Diffusion


But Zhu found that an artwork created using US text-to-image software Stable Diffusion could be copyrighted because of the “originality” and intellectual input of its human creator.

In the Chinese case the image had been created by continuously adding prompts and adjusting parameters to produce an image that reflected his “aesthetic choice and personalised judgment”, the court found.

The image’s creator, surnamed Li, posted his image of a young Asian woman on social media platform Xiaohongshu, and last May sued a blogger surnamed Liu for allegedly using that image without permission in a post on Baidu-owned content-sharing platform Baijiahao.

The court ordered Liu to issue a public apology and pay the plaintiff 500 yuan ($70, £55) in damages and 50 yuan for court fees.

Presiding judge Zhu said in a lecture last week that she had made the ruling with “emerging industries” in mind and hoped her decision would serve as a reference point for future disputes, The Paper reported on Monday.

Legal precedent

The Beijing Internet Court has indicated that future disputes over an author’s personal expression in images created with the aid of AI should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Sunday estimated that AI is likely to affect 40 percent of jobs worldwide, rising to 60 percent in the most developed economies.

The analysis, published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, found that in the most developed economies, about half of workers would be able to use AI to improve their productivity, while others might find their functions diminished or replaced by automated systems.

Generative AI systems such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion have grown in popularity over the past year, triggering massive investment.