Kelly McKernan, a watercolor and acrylic illustrator from Tennessee, was shocked to discover that her artwork had been used to train an artificial intelligence (AI) system.
She found over 50 pieces of her art uploaded onto LAION, a data set feeding AI image generators like Stable Diffusion, reportes BBC. McKernan and other artists, including cartoonist Sarah Anderson and illustrator Karla Ortiz, have filed a lawsuit against Stability AI, the company behind Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and DeviantArt.
The lawsuit aims to address copyright issues and protect artists’ work from being exploited by AI companies.
Concerns about AI replacing artists and the lack of protection for their creations led Eva Toorenent, an artist from the Netherlands, to establish the European Guild of Artificial Intelligence Regulation.
The guild advocates for legislation to safeguard copyright holders and artists from predatory AI practices.
The debate over opt-in and opt-out options for artists in AI systems also gained attention. While Stability AI suggested artists could opt out, artists argued that it should be an opt-in approach to preserve control over their work.
Equity, a performing arts and entertainment union, voiced concerns about AI posing a threat to artists’ income and advocated for updating the Copyright Act to address the business opportunities of generative AI fairly.
The EU has taken the lead in addressing these concerns, proposing the EU AI Act, which mandates disclosure of copyrighted materials used to train AI tools. The UK is also holding a global summit on AI safety.
In the meantime, artists can protect their work using watermarks and seek license fees from AI entities. Additionally, software tools like Glaze, developed by Ben Zhao and his team, offer protection against generative AI models by altering images in ways that confuse AI systems without compromising human perception.
Despite initial challenges and online harassment, artists remain hopeful that united efforts and public support will lead to better protection for their creative work against the growing influence of AI.