How DALL-E 2 is Redefining Creativity and Intellectual Property in the Age of AI Art How DALL-E 2 is Redefining Creativity and Intellectual Property in the Age of AI Art
Is AI-generated art intellectual property? Tools such as Dall-E 2, Midjourney, and Jasper Art are changing how people add images to... How DALL-E 2 is Redefining Creativity and Intellectual Property in the Age of AI Art

Is AI-generated art intellectual property? Tools such as Dall-E 2, Midjourney, and Jasper Art are changing how people add images to blog posts, social media ads, and other promotional tools. These are just coming into the mainstream, so figuring out the best ways to navigate the ethics of AI is a crucial part of business processes.

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AI Art and Copyright

You might spend hours refining your prompts for AI art, and such effort makes you take ownership of the generated product. However, on August 18, 2023, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia decided only humans can obtain a copyright for works.

The case involved an application for copyright by computer scientist Stephen Thaler for his renderings generated by Midjourney. The decision impacts more than just Thaler’s work — anyone generating images through an AI platform faces a similar dilemma. If you can’t copyright your work, how can you protect it from digital pirates?

If you generate a logo for your company with AI, you can’t trademark it — someone else could use it or duplicate it. The inability to copyright AI art is still a gray area. What happens if the person uses a small part of AI to change an original drawing, for example? They retain the rights to the original image, but is the edited image protected?

The U.S. Copyright Office did rule that an AI-generated graphic novel with human-generated text can be copyrighted. However, the individual images do not have protection. 

The case could rise to the Supreme Court as similar ones make their way through the courts. Data scientists continue to perfect art-generation programs and learn better ways to teach computers to replicate human creativity. 

Moral Concerns Surrounding AI

Artists, writers, and computer scientists debate the moral implications of AI-generated art. People tend to fall into three camps:

  • AI art is the best thing since computers entered people’s homes.
  • AI-generated art is theft of someone else’s work.
  • It’s OK, but AI still has a long way to go.

One question many experts raise is, “Who does AI-generated art belong to?” Should the person who created the prompt get the rights? Perhaps the generation tool’s developer is the owner, or perhaps it’s the owner of the images the tool was trained on.

There are also some ethical considerations for AI art tools trained by datasets of art created by real artists:

  • Who owns the intellectual property rights? Is the work “inspired” by the original artist or just a copy?
  • Is the work free of biases? AI software got into some hot water for generating an image of the founding fathers depicting people other than the historical figures. To ensure their software was inclusive, Google managed to skew the results too far in the other direction.
  • Do AI tools violate privacy? Only when software engineers are fully transparent about their datasets and where initial information comes from will people trust in the program’s ethics.

The landscape of what art is and what a machine is may grow as people increasingly embrace new technologies. At this time, machines have to have input from somewhere to figure out how to “/imagine a field with poppies in bloom in the style of Van Gogh.” The question is, how original is the work, or is it just theft of other artists’ creations?

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The Generational Divide: Another Factor in AI-Generated Art Acceptance?

Younger generations may be open to embracing technology faster than others. Gen Z is the second-largest generation in the workforce and grew up entirely in a digital area. It’s common for them to know complex tools such as DALL-E already and have an intrinsic understanding of their use’s ethics. 

Many are in entry-level positions or trying to start their own design firms, so they may look to AI to fill the gap. The median income for graphic designers is $50,710 per year, but location and experience greatly impact earning potential. For freelancers, using tools like DALL-E 2 speeds up processes and allows them to increase their earning potential.

Enterprises will likely achieve a wise balance between human-generated and AI-generated combinations as they find creative solutions for tapping into machine art. Gen Zers also know how to stay up on the latest trends, so they may be aware of legal concerns before leaders. Brands should keep an open dialogue so employees can express concerns about current procedures and find better methods.

Cases in the Courts Surrounding AI

AI-generation tools hit the mainstream in the last few years, with big players — such as Open AI, Microsoft and Google — adding user-friendly software options. Although not all issues speak directly to DALL-E 2, they may still impact the software’s use going forward.

Dall-E 3 is the latest version of Open AI’s software, and the same company makes ChatGPT. You may find lawsuits referring to it directly, several generative AI brands, or a specific software version.

TechCrunch took a deep dive into the class action lawsuit against Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI for potentially violating copyright law. The problem is they used artists’ works to train their models, potentially scraping them from the internet. AI platforms have deep pockets — while lawsuits keep coming, they raised around $1.3 billion from investors to grow their machines in more precise AI.

Getty Images banned adding AI-generated art to their platforms. Other sites have asked users to mark it as AI-generated, including Facebook and Amazon KDP.

In October 2023, a group of artists filed for an injunction with the premise that the software engineers for three enterprises used their work without permission to train their AI models. The businesses pushed back, claiming the works were available to learn from under fair use.

The artists’ concern is that before AI, people had to buy their work to use something like it. Now, they can generate an image in the artists’ style without paying anything other than a usage fee. The judge did offer to let them amend their complaint, which focused more on the generation of similar art than the fact that the defendants scraped their work and used it without permission.

Intellectual Property Rights Most Significant

People spend a lot of time and effort developing an original concept and personal style. Artists push back so hard against AI-generated art because machines could threaten their livelihood.

Creatives understand the effort involved in generating something from nothing. Just how far do intellectual property rights go? The fact that companies used their art without first asking to train the machines that run them out of business doesn’t sit well with most artists.

Unforeseen Consequences

Another thing to consider when deciding how far to push AI usage is unintended outcomes. For example, generated videos can make it seem like a person said something they did not. People have already released videos of earthquakes and tornadoes, setting off panic in the public, as they believe the event happened and loved ones might be at risk.

The ability for bad players to bring about chaos or even initiate a war between countries exists. As AI grows more advanced and videos more convincing, computers can imitate anyone. Although detection tools identified generated videos at 98.3%, that still leaves a gap where even the machines aren’t sure if images are real or fake.

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Humans Are Still Necessary

While AI-generated images have come a long way, the human element is still necessary. Anyone who has ever generated an image on DALL-E or one of the other platforms knows the hands look weird, extra arms appear, and the eyes go wonky sometimes. Although AI may one day replace the need for a graphic designer to hand-draw certain elements, true creativity and originality still come from the inner core that makes humans unlike any other species on Earth.

Author bio:
Eleanor Hecks specializes in AI and modeling topics as the editor-in-chief of Designerly Magazine. Through her writing and research, she aims to enhance understanding and appreciation of the ever-evolving technology landscape.

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