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Graphic Artists Guild

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New York, NY 10024

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AI Art Generators: Where We Stand

The advent of AI art generators have generated a great deal of concern among our community of graphic artists. As AI generator platforms for art, text, and music have emerged, the creative communities —  visual artists, writers, music composers, and others —  have been grappling with the impact and implications. The machine learning technology behind AI generators has raised serious questions about authorship, copyrightability, and ethics. As has often been the case when technology has disrupted traditional licensing and business models, the law provides few clear answers. The lawyers, policy makers, and enforcers behind our copyright system —  the engine which drives our creative economy —  are playing catch up.

Where does the Graphic Artist Guild stand in all this?

In the past, we have weathered technology disruptions guided by our lodestar: what is the best outcome for our community of artists? What policies, best practices, and ethical guidelines will best protect the economic interests of our members, and empower them to pursue successful, fulfilling careers? The same considerations are valid this time – and yet this time feels different.

For one thing, there is a division within our community. Some of our constituents are emphatically opposed to any use of AI image generators; others are creators who incorporate AI platforms as a tool in developing their own, original work. The resulting schism within the community has resulted in online attacks, hyperbolic rhetoric, and the dissemination of inaccurate information —  from both sides, and to the detriment of all artists.

This time also feels different in that the tech sector in general, notorious for ignoring the concerns of individual creators, has evolved in recent years to seem to be more open to meeting artists part-way. Our speculation predates the emergence of AI generators. For example, within the past few years, the release of the Google licensable image badge and Instagram’s clarification of the limits of using their API in image embedding are positive steps —  overdue, to be sure —  in the right direction. If  there is ever going to be a transformation  in how the tech sector chooses to treat artists’ concerns with authorship and the unauthorized use of our work, it will most likely be the outcome of various factors: ongoing advocacy on behalf of artists, governmental scrutiny (including outside our borders, significantly in the EU), copyright litigation, and activism from individual artists.

How is the Guild is meeting this challenge?

Here’s how  we are working to protect the interests of all artists in meeting the challenges posed by AI generators:

  • Coordinating with other advocacy organizations in formulating effective responses across the creative industries;
  • Working with Members of Congress intent on developing a legislative response to AI generators;
  • Engaging with the Copyright Office to represent the concerns of graphic artists;
  • Developing educational resources for artists to better understand the myriad issues raised by AI image generators;
  • Engaging with AI generator platforms to advocate for greater protections for artists and existing works of art;
  • Engaging with artists across the spectrum to understand how AI image generators directly impact them.

AI generators are not going to simply disappear. Our best path forward is to push for the best means to further the interests of artists: through policies, education, and advocacy within our community and with the players, including artists, who will shape the future of AI image generators. Our hope is that this future will be one in which graphic artists are protected, uplifted, and thriving. As always, we invite our community to help us shape this future.