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Why you should not infringe copyright when generating AI images

Why you should not infringe copyright when generating AI images

In the current digital era, the production and distribution of content, including visual representations, has been made facile by the emergence of artificial intelligence.

However, the application of AI in content generation, particularly images, demands caution in relation to copyright laws, and whether using copyrighted materials is legally permissible.

Copyright laws offer a legal framework that bestows exclusive rights to creators of original works, such as images.

This implies that any individual who intends to use a copyrighted image must obtain explicit authorization from the copyright owner or possess a legal basis for their use.

Failure to adhere to this legal requirement may result in a copyright violation, which may cause a cascade of legal consequences such as penalties and damages.

With respect to generating images using AI, different scenarios may arise in which copyrighted materials come into play.

For instance, AI algorithms may be trained using copyrighted images as part of their dataset. In another instance, an AI-generated image may include copyrighted components such as logos, trademarks, or other original works.

Training an AI model using copyrighted images can trigger several copyright issues. Firstly, using copyrighted images without proper authorization or a legal basis can be classified as copyright infringement.

Secondly, training an AI model using copyrighted images may be seen as a derivative work, which may necessitate permission from the copyright owner.

Thirdly, even if the training data is not visible in the AI-generated image, it is still an integral part of the creative process and is subject to copyright law.

Nevertheless, some situations allow using copyrighted materials under fair use or other copyright exceptions.


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Fair use

Fair use is a legal principle that permits using copyrighted materials without authorization under specific circumstances, such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

Whether or not a particular use of copyrighted materials is considered fair use depends on several factors, including the nature and purpose of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and quality of the portion used, and the impact of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair use may apply in generating images with AI if the use of copyrighted materials is transformative and adds new meaning or value.

For example, an AI-generated image that transforms a copyrighted image into a parody or a commentary on the original work may be considered fair use.

Similarly, an AI-generated image that uses copyrighted materials as part of a larger, original work may also be considered fair use if the use is limited and does not negatively affect the market or value of the original work.

Another viable option for using copyrighted materials in generating images with AI is obtaining permission or a license from the copyright owner.

This can be achieved through direct contact with the copyright owner or the use of a stock image website that offers licensed images for use in AI-generated works.

Although this approach may necessitate additional effort and expenses, it provides a legal basis for using copyrighted materials and mitigates the risk of copyright infringement.

In conclusion, when copyrighted materials are utilised, generating AI images can trigger copyright issues, including infringement and derivative work.

However, fair use and other copyright exceptions may apply in specific situations, and obtaining permission or a license from the copyright owner provides a legal basis for using copyrighted materials.

It is important to seek the guidance of legal professionals to ensure that the use of copyrighted materials is lawful in your particular situation.

Note also that copyright laws differ from country to country, so you should always check the law where you live.