The COVER Protest: Copyright Obstruction Violates Expressive Rights

by | Thursday, March 23rd, 2023 | News | 2 comments

C.O.V.E.R. Protest Statement: Protecting the Expressive Rights of AI-Assisted Artists



We, the artists and creators using AI-assistance in our work, demand recognition and protection for our expressive rights. The refusal of the United States Copyright Office (USCO) to register copyright for AI-generated art is a discriminatory and unjust practice that undermines the creative expression and financial opportunities for those in the AI art community. As AI artists, we believe that our work, regardless of the tools used, deserves equal protection under the law. By embracing the concept of “data dignity” and acknowledging the human effort and creativity behind AI-assisted creations, we can ensure a fair and ethical future for the AI art community.

The Importance of Data Dignity in AI-Assisted Art

Jaron Lanier, a prominent technologist and philosopher, advocates for recognizing the human element behind AI-generated content. In his concept of “data dignity,” he stresses the importance of acknowledging the sources behind AI-generated content and ensuring creators are fairly compensated for their contributions. By drawing parallels with the debate surrounding the copyright of AI-assisted artworks, we can apply the principles of data dignity to ensure that artists and creators are recognized and rewarded for their work, ultimately fostering a more responsible and ethical use of AI technology in the creative sphere.

The copyright law protects “the fruits of the intellectual labor” that “are founded in the creative powers of the mind.” Courts have found “it is now settled beyond question that practically anything novel can be copyrighted,” even if there is only a “faint trace of originality.” 

For AI artists, data dignity emphasizes the significance of their creative input in the form of prompts or other instructions that guide the AI system to produce original artwork. This creative input should be recognized as an integral part of the final artwork and protected under copyright law, just like any other form of creative expression. By acknowledging and protecting the AI artist’s role in shaping the outcome of the artwork, data dignity ensures that their intellectual property rights are respected and preserved.

The Value of AI-Generated Art as Creative Expression

AI-generated art is a unique and valid form of creative expression. Like any other art form, it is a reflection of the artist’s originality, creativity, and talent. Copyright law focuses on the origin of the idea expressed, not the tools used in the creation process. Denying copyright protection based on the tool used sets a discriminatory precedent and undermines the intent of copyright protection, which is to safeguard the expression of creative ideas originating from human authors.

The Economic Implications of Copyright Protection

AI-generated art, like other forms of art, has the potential to generate income for the artists who create it. By denying copyright protection, the USCO is hindering the ability of artists to benefit from their work, and potentially stifling innovation in the field of AI-assisted art.

The COVER Protest: A Call for Change

As a symbol of our protest against the USCO’s refusal to recognize and protect the expressive rights of AI artists, we have watermarked our images with the acronym COVER, which stands for “Copyright Obstruction Violates Expressive Rights.” This watermark serves as a reminder of the need for change in copyright policy and a call for others to join our cause. #ProtectAIart You can download the COVER Watermark for your own free personal use below:


We urge the United States Copyright Office to reconsider its stance on AI-assisted art and recognize the creative rights of artists who use AI technology in their work. The expressive rights of AI artists must be protected and respected, just as the rights of artists working with traditional mediums are. We invite those who share our vision of a fair and equitable future for AI-assisted art to join our cause and stand with us in our fight for the recognition and protection of our expressive rights.


Jason M Allen and the AI Artists Community

Art Incarnate, Inc.


  1. Nina V. M

    Well done! I think it was a question of time until a media digital artist/collective, specifically, AI-assisted art, make this action. I think you gave attention to the most import aspects, implications and players on this process. I can say that, even in simple things like augmented reality art – where there is no controversy – I feel “the look”. And I am gaving my first steps and I have to – because I am an artist-researcher and my PhD program demands to know the more and the newest (we have to present AI-assisted animations, videos). There is no way to run from it. Unless one is on a different (and also valid) path. However, no one can deny what already exist, to exist, and the freedom of learning, creating and seeing one’s work recognized must be secured.

    Thanks for your insight and for being a beacon

  2. CT Chew

    Thanks for this Jason. Every movement in art, especially in the last hundred years points to the validity of your statement.


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