Technology is outpacing regulation at a rapid degree, and it is important to know the full ramifications of a modality that might not align with your business practices.
My main purpose here is to convey the reasons why I believe it is an unethical, immoral, and illegal business practice to use AI-generated art (no matter the format or media–written versus visual art) as we have it today.
Please note, I am attempting to simplify and may not address all the nuances in this topic.
First, the general definitions. There are differences in AI-Generated versus AI-Assisted art.
AI-Assisted starts with the human artist who creates a character and then uses tools to enhance their work. For example, creating a 3-D model of their character, changing color palettes, etc.
An analogy for a writer would be: if a writer used a program to spell check and grammar check their document.
AI-generated means the art work is completely created by AI. You enter in a search term and it spits out images. Even if you trace over, tweak, and/or otherwise modify the image for your purposes, you have used an image that did not start with a human (photographer, digital artist, etc).
An analogy for a writer would be: a writer searches for an article on Google, clicks on the first link that pops up, changes a few words, puts their name as the author, and then publishes it. Or, if they copied and pasted sections of another author’s book into theirs yet claims they wrote that book.
–When an author does this for their book, it would be called plagiarism, and would be an infringement of copyright.
AI-Generators do not create from a vacuum. It creates from other pieces of already created, copyrighted, licensed works out there.
This is the crux of the issue with AI-Generated works. Those images are based upon copyrighted and licensed work.
At this point, EVERY bit of AI-generated art is made from datasets scraped using copyrighted material without the artist’s permission. As of this writing, 10/10/2023, there are no AI generators free of copyrighted materials. Copyrighted art is part of all AI-Generated programs’ source material.
Why is copyright important?
On copyright pages, where it says, “All Rights Reserved” that means as a copyright owner, I retain all rights to my work, and another person cannot reproduce, distribute and/or adapt any part of the work without my permission (there are legal exceptions such as private use and the right to quote from a work.)
That is not just empty jargon to fill in blank pages for our book aesthetics.
In the same vein, visual artist’s works are protected by copyright. Their artwork cannot be used, reproduced, distributed, let alone be profited from, without their permission.
–Physical art (like a sculpture or painting) also has a subsection in the copyright laws delineating Ownership of Artwork and Ownership of Artist Copyright–they are TWO distinct principles.
–From the Federal Copyrights Act: “The copyright is distinct from the property in the material object, and the sale or conveyance, by gift or otherwise, of the material object shall not in itself constitute a transfer of the copyright…”
–Note to authors: Just because you paid a cover artist or illustrator to create your art does not mean you automatically own the copyright to that artwork to reproduce it as you see fit. For this reason, you should communicate with your artist if you intend to create merchandise or place the artwork on physical products in order to obtain the appropriate licensing.
This is also why a reader does not own the rights to a story simply by purchasing a book. Owning a physical or digital copy does not give a customer or reader the right to reproduce, distribute, for-profit or otherwise, without your permission. (A notable exception would be the First Sale Doctrine–where one can re-sell the physical copy of an item if it had been purchased already. An example of this in practice would be our library system, garage sales, second hand thrift shops).
What does this mean?
Invictus Media Group LLC (dba Eva Priest, dba Darklight Press) does not support AI-Generated art. I will not have it in my stories, anthologies, or business partnerships. If you use AI-Generated art in its current modality for any business enterprise (including but not limited to cover art, copy content, image assets on ads, image assets on social media), our core values are not aligned; therefore, it would be a conflict of interest for us to collaborate.