Is AI Generated Art Royalty Free?

Ever since I started thinking more seriously about AI generated art and bot-written content, I’m wondering who owns the rights. Case in point: in my last post, I asked Is ChatGPT the End of Blogging? What I didn’t ask, is who owns the copyright for content generated by ChatGPT and other language software? Technically, those words and images were “created” by some ghost in the machine. However, that machine only churns out content based on what it already found out there in the ether. As a result, the AI generated content and copy may very well be plagiarised in the first place. Yeah, I went down that rabbit hole when creating these amazing images.

ai generated art

Midjourney, Discord and AI Oh My!

So, for this week’s Friday Five I give you a fun collection of those fantasy images I created, using the MidJourney AI generated art engine. Or whatever you wanna call it.

ai generated art

How does it work? Midjourney runs on a Discord server. Download the app, join the community, enter your prompt, and watch the magic.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

arthur c. clarke
Profiles of the future

The future is now. The magic is happening. It’s both exciting and scary. Exciting because it is fascinating to watch the rapid development of these incredible tools and how people are using them. Scary to think how they can be so abused. Take the issue of rights to AI generated art.

ai generated art

How Does AI Generated Art Work?

I entered my prompt something like: /imagine digital nomad sitting atop RV with laptop on lonely highway confronted by Skynet blimp with tentacles and flying robots attacking in the style of Moebius.

Yeah, Moebius is a favorite artist of mine. Therefore, I would never steal his artwork. But the machine did. And she pretty much nailed it! She? Yeah, because this AI business is a bitch.

ai v. blogger

I love comic art. Immediately, I immerse myself in the story. I create context with awe and wonder whether it’s on target with what the artist originally envisioned. AI generated content may be amazing. But it lacks the originality and creativity of the artist who painstakingly puts pen and brush to paper. Returning and revising, until it is “done”, when they sign or put their own mark on it. I find it fascinating how some of these images also include a “signature”. This only suggests that the vast soup of source images also included some sort of emblem in the corner, claiming copyright of some sort.

ai generated art

So, I’m claiming the rights to these images. That’s because I’ve published them here first. But any artist (or author) can point me to their examples of first use for these images and that copy I “wrote” with the help of ChatGPT. In which case, I will gladly defer.

the end of blogging
Travel Blogger vs. the AI Machine

This image is one of my favorites. The story I created in my mind exemplifies the battle of man vs. machine. Yet it took mere minutes to create.

ai generated art

Will AI Generated Art Replace Artisits?

Meanwhile, I watched the live stream of other Discord users feeding their prompts to the Midjourney machine. I saw people “creating” realistic prototypes and surprisingly impressive logos in a matter of seconds. Add sad to that list of exciting and scary feelings I have about AI generated art. As a graphic designer, I feel like Lee Se-dol the AlphaGo master player who quit the game after being defeated by Deepmind.

There is an entity that cannot be defeated.

Korean AlphaGo master Player Lee Se-dol

I could never in my wildest dreams create artwork like this. Technically, that’s the only place I can, in my mind. For now, however, I can pretend I created these fantastic images. In reality, I entered the prompts. The AI then churned out some concepts. You then have the option to create more variations (v), or upscale (u) any image. The results are well, unreal.

the end of blogging
Will AI end or assist niche bloggers?

With AI generated art, deep fakes, and more tools like ChatGPT we’re only beginning to blur the line between reality and the age of Skynet. Exciting times indeed. And scary…and sad.


Thinking more about AI generated art, I wanted to see if there was any obvious cause for copyright infringement with the images I created on Midjourney. So I did a quick reverse image search. Check out the results.

As much as I hate to say it, Bing did a much better job than the Google at finding similar images. Consequently, note the similarity of content, character, and color in many of the results. Yet, none is so strikingly similar to trigger any sort copyright claim. Unless of course, you’re the original artist and can show me proof. In that case, I’ll give you full credit. Unless you’re a bot.

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