Switching your print on demand supplier? Get in touch with us here

1. How AI model training affects artist rights

How to protect your art from AI in 2024

Today, new advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are blurring the lines between the art by human artists and machine-generated art. While AI tools like Stability AI offer exciting avenues for artistic exploration, they also raise concerns about ownership, originality, and the very essence of artistic expression. 

As an artist today, understanding and using AI systems while also protecting your art is more important than ever.

This blog post explores the impact of AI model training on artist rights, key strategies for safeguarding artwork, and best practices for secure online sharing.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • When artists' creations are used to train AI models, it can diminish the originality and uniqueness of their work by imitating styles. Copyright issues arise when AI image generators utilize an artist's work for training, resulting in complicated ownership disputes and potential unauthorized uses that may distort the artist's intended message or perception.

  • Strategies for protecting artwork include using watermarks and digital signatures, opting out of AI training on AI platforms, using image cloaking tools, and taking legal action against infringements. These measures aim to assert ownership, deter unauthorized use, and secure rights for artists.

  • To ensure safe online sharing, artists should regularly monitor their artwork's online presence through reverse image searches and set up alerts. Using digital tracking tools and engaging in community vigilance can also help spot unauthorized uses. Sharing lower-resolution versions or excerpts can further protect against misuse.

  • Platforms such as Gelato offer secure ways to showcase and monetize artwork through print on demand services, adding a layer of protection while enabling artists to profit from their work.

How AI model training affects artist rights

Artist reviewing artwork copies

The world of art is changing rapidly with the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI). One main concern is the potential impact of AI model training on artist rights. But you may ask, what is AI model training? Basically, AI model training is the process of training a computer to recognize patterns in various types of data like the image's pixels, sounds, or text. 

So, when it comes to artworks, here's how AI model training potentially impacts artist rights: 

AI replication and artistic identity 

  • Dilution of originality: AI has the potential to replicate artworks, essentially generating pieces that imitate the styles of renowned artists. This may impair the perception of originality and uniqueness tied to an artist's work. In turn, the dilution of originality poses a significant challenge for artists whose identity is intertwined with their unique artistic style.

  • Income displacement: AI-generated replicas of an artist's work could be sold or shared widely without any financial benefit to the original artist. This could potentially displace income from the original creator to those exploiting AI technologies.

Copyright complexity in AI art 

  • Copyright ownership disputes: The copyright status of AI-created artwork is a complex and hotly debated issue. When AI uses an artist's work to train image generators, it raises the question of who owns the copyright. This can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and copyright may even be granted to the human facilitator or business that trained the AI model.

  • Legislative lag: The law does not always keep pace with technological advancements. Currently, legislation is yet to reach a consensus on the rights of artists when their work is used for AI model training. This can leave artists vulnerable to exploitation.

Loss of control 

  • Unauthorized use: AI models are typically trained on vast datasets, often scraped from the internet. This could mean an artist's work is used without their permission, which could lead to a loss of control over how and where their art is used.

  • Distorted perception: If an artist's work is used as a basis to generate art that is radically different or even controversial, it could distort public perception of the artist's original intention or message.

Four strategies to protect your art from AI in 2024

Secure art storage

In order to protect your artwork in this age of AI, the following strategies offer a multi-layered approach:

1. Watermarking and digital signatures

Think of watermarks and digital signatures as invisible guardians for your artwork. Watermarks are like subtle, semi-transparent logos embedded within your image. They don't disrupt the visual flow but discreetly declare ownership. Digital signatures, on the other hand, are like hidden codes attached to your artwork's file. These codes can't be easily removed and ownership can be verified when needed.

Both methods stop people from using your artwork without permission. If someone tries to copy and distribute your artwork, the watermark will remain, proving your claim. Similarly, with a digital signature, any attempt to alter the artwork will invalidate the code, exposing the forgery.

These tools are particularly valuable when sharing your work online. They offer a first line of defense, making it clear that your art is copyrighted and protected. While not foolproof, watermarks and digital signatures add a layer of security, giving you peace of mind and strengthening your case in case of infringement.

2. Opting out

The rise of AI art models raises a crucial question: Can you prevent your artwork from being used to train them? Thankfully, the answer is becoming increasingly "yes."

Some AI platforms are now recognizing visual artists' rights and offering opt-out mechanisms. These options allow you to register your artwork and explicitly request it not be included in the datasets used to train their AI models.

Why opting out is important
  • Maintaining control: By opting out, you retain a degree of control over how your work is used. You decide whether your artistic style becomes part of an AI's repertoire.

  • Preserving originality: Because AI mimics styles so effectively, opting out can help ensure your unique artistic voice isn't diluted by AI-generated derivatives.

  • Safeguarding copyright: If your work is used without permission, opting out strengthens your case in potential copyright infringement disputes.

However, a caveat exists. Opt-out mechanisms are still evolving, and their effectiveness can vary depending on the platform.

What you can do
  • Research opt-out options: Stay informed about AI platforms offering opt-out mechanisms for artists. Look for announcements and updates from major AI companies and organizations.

  • Exercise your right: If an AI platform offers an opt-out option, take advantage of it. It's a simple step that can significantly protect your creative output.

  • Advocate for change: The presence of opt-out options depends on artist advocacy. Support organizations and initiatives that push for transparency and artist control in AI data usage.

By opting out, you send a clear message about your ownership and protect your artwork in this new digital landscape. Remember, staying informed and taking action are key to safeguarding your artistic rights in the age of AI.

3. Cloaking images with Glaze or Nightshade

Have you ever wanted to use a tool that shields your artwork from AI, making it invisible (well, almost) to their prying algorithms? This is exactly where image-cloaking tools like Glaze and Nightshade come in, offering a powerful way to deter AI from using your artwork. 

How does image cloaking work?

Both Glaze and Nightshade employ a technique called "adversarial cloaking." They analyze artists' artwork and introduce subtle, imperceptible changes to the pixels. These modifications don't affect the human eye's perception of the image, but they confuse AI algorithms trained on standard datasets. Think of it like a visual camouflage, making your artwork appear different from AI while remaining unchanged for you.

Benefits of cloaking:
  • Deters AI training: Cloaking your artwork makes it less effective for AI model training, which discourages AI from replicating your unique style.

  • Promotes originality: With AI adept at mimicking styles, cloaking adds a layer of protection. It hinders AI from easily capturing the essence of your artwork.

  • Offers peace of mind: Knowing your work is less susceptible to AI imitation can be a significant source of comfort.

However, there are a few important factors you must keep in mind:

  • It's not foolproof: While effective, cloaking isn't an impenetrable shield. Highly advanced AI models might still be able to mimic your style to some degree.

  • Software availability: Currently, both Glaze and Nightshade are under development. While Glaze is available for download, Nightshade's release is pending.

  • Potential ethical concerns: Nightshade specifically might introduce noise into AI training datasets, potentially hindering overall AI development. This raises ethical considerations that are still being debated.

4. Taking legal action

If you discover someone has used your artwork without permission, particularly if it's been used to train an AI model that then replicates your style, legal action might be necessary to protect your rights. 

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses a substantial portion of your original work without your permission. This can include copying your artwork, using it to create derivative works, or publicly displaying it without your authorization. In the context of AI, using your artwork to train a model that then replicates your style could be considered copyright infringement.

Legal action can be a complex and expensive process. That's why you should first:

  • Gather evidence: Document the infringement. Collect screenshots, code (if applicable), and any other evidence that proves the unauthorized use of your artwork.

  • Contact the infringer: Often, a simple cease-and-desist letter from your lawyer can resolve the issue. This letter formally demands the infringer stop using your work and outlines potential legal consequences if they don't comply.

If a cease-and-desist letter doesn't resolve the issue, you might need to take legal action. Here's what your lawyer will focus on:

  • Copyright ownership: Proof of copyright registration strengthens your case. If you haven't registered your copyright, consider doing so before taking legal action.

  • Substantial similarity: Your lawyer will need to demonstrate that the AI-generated work is substantially similar to your original artwork in terms of its expression and originality.

  • Damages: You may be entitled to compensation for the financial harm caused by the infringement.

You should only pursue legal action as a last resort. However, understanding your options empowers you to protect your creative rights and send a strong message that your artwork is not to be used without permission.

Best practices for safe online sharing and monitoring

Sharing your art online can be a double-edged sword. While it helps you reach a wider audience and potential buyers, it also exposes your work to potential misuse. So, follow these best practices to securely share your creations in the online world:

  • Periodically conduct reverse image searches on popular search engines. This can help to identify if your art is being used elsewhere without your permission.

  • Set up Google Alerts for your name, the names of your most popular pieces, and any distinctive keywords or phrases associated with your work. This will notify you when these terms are mentioned on the internet.

  • Use digital tracking tools specifically designed for intellectual property rights management. These can provide detailed reports on where and how your art is being used, even helping to find misattributed or plagiarized works.

  • Engage in community vigilance. Build a trusted network of fellow artists and supporters who can help you spot unauthorized uses of your work.

  • Be mindful of the platforms where you share your work. Not all sites have the same commitment to protecting artists' rights.

  • If possible, share only excerpts or lower-resolution versions of your work. This makes it harder for others to create high-quality reproductions without your permission.

  • Do not forget about the Off-Facebook Activity. Limiting the personal information shared with Meta can help protect you from targeted AI-art misuse.

  • Safeguard your work by taking advantage of the advanced privacy settings offered by social media platforms. Familiarize yourself with these settings and use them to your advantage.

Secure and monetize your art with Gelato

Artist reviewing product samples

While protecting your art is crucial, don't let it hinder your ability to share it with the world. Gelato offers a secure print on demand platform to showcase and monetize your creations.

Gelato's print on demand service allows you to upload your images online and have them printed on a variety of high-quality products, from custom mugs and t-shirts to phone cases and wall art.

Take it a step further with Gelato's Personalization Studio. Let your customers personalize your prints, adding a unique touch and increasing their value. Our subscription plans unlock recurring revenue streams, and the API integration seamlessly connects Gelato's services with your website for a smooth customer experience.

So, don't be afraid to share your talent. Sign up for Gelato today and express your creativity while protecting your work with a centralized platform.


Next steps

Start selling products with Gelato