AI Generated Image Copyright Law Will Go One Of 3 Ways

 The Current Legal Landscape

    Everyone in the artwork on the internet is talking about AI and most artists aren't happy about it. There has yet to be written an official law pertaining to AI generated art and copyright but as of now there has been a court ruling on a case where someone used AI to make art for their comic book and it got rejected from the patent office. The court ruled that AI art cannot be copyright claimed for commercial use. This is probably going to be what the official law will be when ever they get around to writing it. But as of now there are three camps as to how people want AI art to be treated. There's big mad artists who want AI art killed off. They think that no-one should be allowed to make money off of AI art. I think there is a specific license that allows for personal use but not commercial use of material. On the opposite side we have the AI stans, the ones posting all the AI WAIFUs all over the internet. They say that if someone uses AI to make art they should be able to copywrite it as their own IP and make money off of it. The there's the middle ground where most unaffected people probably will stand. This is where AI art will be open domain and no-one can claim ownership over it. 

    Now this is a very simplified version of the problem because most people who are currently making actual money off of AI art are not in fact posting unaltered images straight from the generator. They are using tools and editing software, adding things, taking away things, using filters etc. to significantly alter the final result if the product. This poses a problem for the AI haters because our current copyright laws are based around the philosophy of Adam Smith who said that adding a significant amount of labor to something makes it yours. One of the manifestations of this philosophy is called fair use and its what allows us to make parodies', critiques and educational content around copywritten material. As long as the resulting work is not a direct replacement for the original material and has had significant labor put into it's making. As someone who has used AI art generators I can tell you that 99% of the time you don't get exactly what you want as a direct output and it can certainly require significant labor to get something resembling what you are envisioning. To me this makes it clear that we need our laws to reflect the original Adam smith philosophy if we want people to own their labor. 

Different Perspectives on AI Art

    Many Artists will argue that its not in fact a significant amount of labor to produce AI art and that traditional art takes exponentially more time and energy to produce. While this could certainly be true in many cases I would like to remind people of the time when photoshop got popular and the older artists made a big deal about how people who use Photoshop aren't real artists because it makes it too easy. To that I say If you chop down trees with a rock to make a cabin, that doesn't make the cabin necessarily worth more than the one made worth a chainsaw. It also doesn't entitle someone else to use your cabin just because they think it was too easy for you to build. Modern technology makes any work easier and AI is just a shiny new tool. The other argument is that AI researchers use copyrighted material to train their algorithms and so the output of those algorithms is therefore also protected copyright by the original artists. This to me at least seems pretty obviously another case of fair use. The algorithm takes material and adds labor under the direction of the person using it and produces something that is significantly different from any original piece of art. If the exact same AI art work were done by hand instead of by machine, by an artist using copywritten material as references the resulting art would not in any way be considered infringement of copyright. So why would automation of that task result in a different outcome? 

Challenges Faced by Artists Using AI

    The most troubling thing about this whole situation is that artists who use AI as a tool, who put significant time and effort into creating what they have envisioned are getting screwed right now by platforms who have taken a knee jerk moral standing against the use of AI art. There was a person who had spent many months working on an indie game and then tried to release it on steam only to be banned because it contained AI generated images. Then after removing the offending images this person still couldn't get the ban appealed because there's not really any good way of knowing if an image was generated by AI or not. These platforms are literally just finding someone to squint at an image and make a judgment call based on arbitrary criteria. To me this is the real problem. On one side we have a bunch of artists who believe they have been personally wronged by someone making money from low effort AI Hentai, and that they shouldn't be allowed to to that, and on the other side we have legitimate artists who are using AI as a tool and aren't able to get their labor protected or in some cases aren't able to make any money off of it at all. I would prefer to err on the side that helps those that are legitimately getting treated unfairly rather than the side that just validates people who are offended by AI anime boobs.