ArtStation bans protesting AI art on the platform

After it declined to censor the content, artists inundated the marketplace and art portfolio site with “No AI Art” protest photos. As a result of claims that the content breaches its Terms of Service, the art portal ArtStation bans protesting AI art. This was done by removing photographs condemning AI-generated art from its homepage. After artificial intelligence (AI)-generated art started to appear on the platform in early December, members of the ArtStation community started to protest. Protesters are concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) frequently appropriates human artists’ work without acknowledging or paying them for it.

The Controversy and ArtStation

One of the top online communities and portfolios for artists working in video games, movies, and comic books is ArtStation. Epic Games acquired it in 2021. As AI tools like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney gained popularity earlier this year, AI-generated imagery started to surface on the platform more frequently. This content was requested to be removed by several artists. However, Artstation refused, which led to the sharing of “No AI Art” photos.

ArtStation bans images that protest AI Art

Anti-AI artwork appears to be in violation of one or more of the platforms’ Terms of Service, but the contract grants ArtStation extensive authority to remove content for a variety of reasons, including when users “send spam or other bulk messages.” We’ve contacted ArtStation for clarification, and should we hear back, we’ll revise this report.

The Criticism

Since AI-art-generating algorithms are frequently taught using datasets including works that have been scraped from the internet without the creators’ consent. In some cases, you can even see remnants of a watermark or signature. Many artists also consider these techniques to be unethical.

Art made by Humans on ArtStation
Art made by Humans on ArtStation

There are concerns that the talents developed over many years by human artists. They are undermined by AI art. Additionally, there are complaints that AI-art prompters profit from artists’ efforts while selling generative art. It’s not surprising that the community has raised concerns about the apparent acceptability of AI art on the platform. This is considering that ArtStation is used by creatives to showcase industry portfolios and locate paid work.

Reactions from Other Platforms

Different art platforms have approached this technical advancement in different ways. A competitor stock image database, Shutterstock, has embraced the technology and announced a “Contributor Fund”. Additionally, this will pay creators when the company sells work to train text-to-image AI models like DALL-E. Getty Images has prohibited the upload and sale of illustrations created using AI art tools. This is due to legal and copyright concerns. Companies that have supported the unexpected rise in popularity of generative art frequently mention its potential as an additional tool for artists to use rather than as a way to replace them.

Getty Images bans AI Art

Unsurprisingly, the decision to remove AI protest imagery from ArtStation has not been well received by the site’s community. Several users are now announcing their plan to completely stop using it. This is also not the first time ArtStation has faced criticism for censoring art. Earlier this year, the company was charged with eliminating content that was pro-Ukraine and anti-war.

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