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2023

AI Art, Marketing, and the Law: A New Frontier

A picture of AI Art, Marketing, and the Law: A New Frontier with The King Of Search

The AI suits are coming.

And I don’t mean the ones that Daft Punk wore back when that was a topical reference. I mean the legal kind.

That’s right, it seems like IP infringement lawsuits aren’t limited to the 3D printing of AirPods cases or T-Mobile owning the color magenta anymore. With the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence tech, the decidedly tech-unsavvy judicial system is struggling to keep up and courts are still figuring out how to handle such cases.

With the continuing development of machine learning technology, it’s possible for AI to create realistic images that can easily be mistaken for real photographs, or at least real art.

This can lead to legal issues if the images used and/or generated by the AI infringe on someone else’s copyright or trademark.

Legal Challenges to the AI Tech Advance

As we all know, AI-generated art has been all the rage in the past year—especially according to the people who make it.

A picture of AI Art, Marketing, and the Law: A New Frontier with The King Of Search
Pictured above: Art. Total creation time: 17 seconds

Generative AI “image generators” created by pioneers like OpenAI and Stability AI can create images from simple (or complex) text prompts.

But here’s the thing about that:

They’re trained on billions of images scraped from the Internet.

And as it turns out, a lot of images on the Internet are copyrighted by the artists who created them.

This past week, a group of (non-AI) artists filed a class-action suit against several AI-art generators, claiming that the companies violated the rights of millions of artists and profited by using copyrighted images to train their AI models.

Similar suits were recently filed against Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI (the creators of ChatGPT).

Implications for Digital Marketers & Content Creators

Naturally, this legal conundrum has significant implications for digital and content marketing.

A picture of AI Art, Marketing, and the Law: A New Frontier with The King Of Search

As AI-generated art becomes more prevalent in these industries, agencies, marketers, graphic designers, and other creators must be aware of the looming legal issues surrounding the use of these images.

As we speak, many businesses are using AI-generated art in their digital marketing campaigns, social media posts, and website designs without realizing that they may be violating copyright laws.

And it’s not just artists who are suing. Even Getty Images is cutting themselves a slice of some nice legal action.

Just the other day, Getty filed a suit against Stability AI, alleging that the company “unlawfully copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright.” Presumably they didn’t pay the $9,000 per medium-res download fee. (But I kid the preeminent global supplier of editorial photography and royalty-free stock image marketplace, offering the best in visual storytelling from its team of editors.)

A picture of AI Art, Marketing, and the Law: A New Frontier with The King Of Search

A study last year found that out of 12 million photos in Stable Diffusion’s data, over 15,000 were likely pulled from Getty Images’ website. It was pretty obvious since the AI tool loved to include the watermark in its image remixes.

Now 15,000 out of 12 million—that’s only 0.125%.

Then again… 15,000 x $499 per HD download… you do the math.

(Just kidding, it’s approximately $7.5 million.)

Turns out AI doesn’t give everyone carte blanche to use artwork however we want. It doesn’t even give us carte sans coleur, its AI-generated equivalent that has weird visual artifacts, and something that I can only describe as an uncanny fractal dog in the corner.

Back in September, Getty Images banned the inclusion of AI-generated images in its database over copyright concerns. But then, Shutterstock and Adobe announced that they would sell images generated by AI tools.

Here are the Takeways:

Determining whether AI-art tools violate copyright law could be tricky. But the outcomes of these lawsuits will likely set precedents for how to handle such cases in the future.

And you know how much courts love a good precedent—regardless of whether it makes sense in the future or not.

Artists have already started sharing tools for determining whether their work was scraped by AI.

So the next time you decide to use art to make an AI-generated image, make sure it’s properly licensed.

If you don’t… well, let’s ask chatGPT what you should do:

  1. “You’d better contact Saul!”
  2. “Time to dial up Saul!”
  3. “Saul should be notified!”
  4. “It’s wise to phone Saul!”
  5. “You ought to give Saul a ring!”
A picture of AI Art, Marketing, and the Law: A New Frontier with The King Of Search
Pictured: Other creations generated by the AI tool Nightcafe to create the image at the start of this article. (Anyone else getting Multiplicity clone degeneration vibes here?)

In other “putting the cart before the AI-generated horse” news, Microsoft just announced plans to integrate OpenAI’s generative artificial intelligence tech into all its products, including Bing.

Determining whether or not AI-art tools violate copyright law is going to be a tricky and complex process.

One thing’s for certain, though: AI-generated art is here to stay—with or without a license.

In light of all this, it’s important for digital marketers and content creators to stay informed about the legal issues surrounding AI-generated art, and to ensure that any AI-generated images they use come from properly-licensed stock.

After all, you wouldn’t AI generate a car… would you?

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