Monetising AI Images: Exploring the Ethical Considerations

NightCafe’s newly released DALL-E 3 text-to-image model offers creators and AI art enthusiasts a way to create graphics of amazing quality with incredible prompt interpretation and even visuals that build in readable, stylised text. 

But, amid the excitement, what is the controversy with AI image generators, and can you legitimately sell or otherwise monetise graphics created with the assistance of AI?

Today, we’ll look at the evolving applications of AI image generators and consider some of the positive and negative arguments around the ethics of selling or commercialising graphics created through an AI image model.

How Are AI-Produced Images Monetised?

One of the most common ways to commercialise a graphic produced in conjunction with an AI model is to publish the image through a marketplace such as Adobe, inviting users to pay a nominal charge to download pictures, depending on the usage rights requested.

A challenge in the area of ethics relates to the potential for AI content to be so close to real-life photography or artwork that the two are indistinguishable. Therefore, the impact could mean that genuine creators find it harder to market and sell imagery when AI artwork could be offered on a similar or cheaper basis through the same platform.

Other debates centre on the use of AI in commercial applications, such as advertising or marketing materials published online, where a graphic representing a brand or company is perceived as an authentic depiction of that company but has been created with AI assistance.

The solution in any of these scenarios is to consider the potential for an AI-generated artwork to replicate the style or theme of another artist or to ensure sufficient transparency to ensure a viewer or consumer of art is aware of the context and isn’t misled about what the graphic is intended to portray.

What Are the Possible Legal Implications of AI Artwork?

In almost every use case, the only legal issues directly linked to AI-generated artwork are related to situations where the creator doesn’t make a concerted effort to provide clarity and information–which the vast majority of AI creators do.

AI generators take text prompts, unique phrases, and artists’ ideas and transform them into landscapes, characters, and mythical creatures. Still, provided they have been comprehensively trained on an extensive library of input reference images, an AI image model won’t directly copy another style unless specifically told to.

The emerging legal debates include the following:

  • Situations where an artist feels their work has been used without sufficient authorisation to train an AI model
  • Problems where a privately owned image appears to have been incorporated into AI training without the owner’s approval
  • Using AI models to generate deep fakes or other pictures used in scam marketing by pretending to be an authentic image of a person or brand

Responsible use of an AI text-to-art generator circumvents all of these problems. It ensures the creator is mindful of the way their artwork is perceived and what it denotes, without any attempt to portray an intelligent and original graphic as anything other than an AI-assisted creation.

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