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Can Creator-Driven Platforms Like DeviantArt Be Used To Train AI Models Without Creator Consent? 10+ Artists Sue To Find Out

Over 10 artists, including Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, Karla Ortiz, Adam Ellis, Gregory Manchess, and Jingna Zhang, sued the online art platform DeviantArt and several AI firms over allegations that millions of user-uploaded artworks were improperly scraped to train artificial intelligence image generation models without consent.

The federal lawsuit alleges that DeviantArt’s 2022 rollout of its “DreamUp” AI image tool constituted direct copyright infringement by using over 3 million site images to train the underlying datasets powering DreamUp and generative AI tools from defendants Stability AI, Midjourney, and Runway.

For illustration, the suit cites a Society of Authors report finding that 26% of surveyed illustrators have already lost work due to generative AI, and 37% have seen income declines.

While DeviantArt initially stated user art would be excluded from AI training, it later admitted certain works were improperly scraped to create models like Stable Diffusion, according to the complaint. Plaintiffs argue DeviantArt’s terms did not authorize this commercial usage.

The suit provides evidence that the AI tools can generate nearly identical outputs to users’ unique artworks, potentially depriving human creators of income across industries increasingly utilizing AI imagery like publishing, gaming and film.

DeviantArt user Jingna Zhang, who also sued Google over its AI image tools, stated the case aims to examine artist rights and ownership amid AI’s proliferation. A judge recently indicated the copyright claims will likely proceed to discovery.

DeviantArt launched in 2000, enabling artists to share portfolios and gain exposure. Several plaintiffs credited the platform with early career opportunities before the platform prioritized AI integration. The case adds to growing litigation against AI firms’ controversial data practices from creators across media forms.

Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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