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Artists fight AI programs that mimic their styles

10.04.2023 08:13 AM
Artists fight AI programs that mimic their styles
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Artists fight AI programs that mimic their styles
Artificial intelligence technology frustrates artists who need years of practice and long hours of continuous effort to accomplish a work, while artificial intelligence programs take seconds to create any work... However, they have not yet taken a final position on this technology, neither online nor judicial.

Last summer, artists realized that artificial intelligence programs described as “generative” could now produce, on demand, a drawing of a dog in the style of American comic strip painter Sarah Anderson, or an image of a mermaid in the style of Carla Ortiz.

Artificial intelligence programs use the works of artists without obtaining their consent, attributing these works to them, or compensating them financially, which are key issues in their battle against these popular programs.

In January, a group of artists filed a class action lawsuit against Midjourney, Stable Defusion and DripUp, which are AI software that uses billions of images from the internet.

Among the plaintiffs, Sarah Andersen, said she felt "personal harm" when she saw a drawing produced under her name.

Her angry reaction, which she expressed via Twitter, spread widely on the platform, prompting other artists to contact her. "We hope to set a judicial precedent and force companies that specialize in artificial intelligence to respect the rules," she says.

Artists, in particular, want to be heard before AI programs use their work, so they either accept it or reject it, rather than demand that their work be removed when that is possible.

Another plaintiff in the case, Carla Ortiz, notes that "a certain system of licensing is possible, but only if the fees are appropriate".

- 'Easy and inexpensive' -
The illustrator, who worked for Marvel Studios, stresses that "artists receiving limited amounts while companies receive millions" is out of the question.

Artists tell on social media how they lost many work contracts.

Jason Allen said, speaking to The New York Times in September 2022 after he won an image created by the “Midjourney” program in a competition, that “art is over and artificial intelligence has won. Humans have lost.”

The Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague is displaying an image created based on artificial intelligence technology to participate in a competition for works inspired by the painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

For its part, the San Francisco Ballet raised controversy after it used the "Midjourney" program in one of its promotional campaigns in December.

And Sarah Andersen angrily says that these programs are "easy and cheap, so institutions do not hesitate to use them, even if they are not in line with ethical principles."

A group of companies did not respond after Agence France-Presse tried to contact them, but the head of "Stabilia AI" Imad Mustak compares these programs to simple tools such as "Photoshop".

And he stresses that artificial intelligence programs allow “millions of people to become artists” and “create a large number of creative jobs,” stressing that using them in an “immoral or legal” way is a “problem” that users bear responsibility for and has nothing to do with technology.

- 'A game of cat and mouse' -
Companies will demand the legality of applying the legal term "fair use", which is an exceptional copyright clause, explains lawyer and developer Matthew Petrick.

He adds, "The magic word is 'transformation'. Does the corporate system offer something new, or does it provide a model that replaces the original in the market?"

Matthew Patrick is the artists' defense partner, along with Joseph Savery Law Firm, but is defending engineers in another lawsuit against Microsoft software.

Technology is also being used to try to counter artificial intelligence programmes.

Heeding artists' call to action, a lab at the University of Chicago recently launched a program that allows works to be published online with the potential to protect them from AI software.

The program called "Glaze" adds certain data to the image that are not visible to the naked eye, but "disrupt the programs," according to the student in charge of the project, Sean Shan.

This initiative received different reactions, some of whom expressed enthusiasm for it, while some expressed skepticism about it.

"It's up to the artists whether or not to adopt this program," says Matthew Petrick, adding that "it would be a cat-and-mouse game between companies and researchers."

Patrick fears that the future generation will be disappointed.

He adds, "I believe that artificial intelligence has won over humans when they give up and refrain from creativity.
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