ArtStation will allow artists to opt out of AI programs using their creations, but concerns remain

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The online portfolio platform ArtStation (opens in new tab) has announced that users will be able to opt in to a feature that purports to exclude their work from algorithmic art generation tools⁠—"AI" platforms like DAL-E that aggregate large libraries of images in order to respond to human prompts with "new" creations. The sourcing of those images has become a controversial topic, with artists arguing their work is taken and reworked without proper credit or consent.

ArtStation's announcement came after a widespread protest by users (opens in new tab) of the Epic-owned site that left its trending page awash with an anti-AI logo designed by illustrator Alexander Nanitchkov (opens in new tab).

ArtStation users will now be able to tag individual works with a "NoAI" HTML tag, or, helpfully, enable the setting across their entire portfolio. ArtStation has updated its terms of service to prohibit the usage of tagged art by automated platforms of any sort, but it's not clear from the post if the tag will immediately start blocking such programs, or if this requires compliance from the developers of those platforms first. 

Similarly, it's unclear how ArtStation will detect unauthorized use of artists' work if developers find a workaround to the tag, and what enforcement will look like. We have reached out to ArtStation for a comment, and will update this story if we hear back.

This is a win for artists who take issue with image aggregating tools, but many still have unmet demands. Some of the protesting users mention taking issue with algorithmically generated images being presented alongside handcrafted art, with differentiation being left to the honor system. "We encourage you to be as transparent in your process as possible by including the correct software, subject matter, and medium [in a post's tags and description]," Artstation writes in its latest update.

Nanitchkov, the artist behind the "No AI" logo, is not yet satisfied. "Everything generated by the current AI/ML/Prompting is soulless stealing," the illustrator's latest post (opens in new tab) on ArtStation reads. "Sold as an utopia of technological advancement, it is mostly fueled by shortsighted greed." Nanitchkov would like to see the NoAI tag switched on for users by default, and is also concerned at the vast library of uncredited images already collected by generative tools. Other artists, meanwhile, question how effective a deterrent the tag will be. 

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.