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ArtStation is hiding anti-AI artwork images on its platform

Update: Epic Games CEO/co-founder Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to discuss ArtStation's decision on AI art and express his own views on the technology.

Justin Carter

December 23, 2022

3 Min Read
Logo for art portfolio website ArtStation.

ArtStation confirmed that it's begun hiding or removing posts on its platform that protest the use of AI art. 

After multiple users recognized that their posts were no longer visible, ArtStation confirmed that it would be getting rid of any posts that seemed to be in violation of its Terms of Service. "We understand concerns about AI and its impact on the industry," it wrote. "We will share more about improvements to give users more control over what they see and how they use ArtStation in the near future."

Earlier this month, ArtStation users began to speak vocally against AI-generated art that produces its results through artwork made by actual humans. Since then, those users have been using a specific graphic condemning the AI art industry in the hopes of reducing AI's presence on the website.

Exactly what terms of service are being violated are unclear, other than the protests potentially breaching the site's stance on "spam and other bulk messages."

Last week, the popular portfolio website used by artists in the entertainment industry (including games) wrote that it would implement a tagging system for artists to ensure their work wouldn't be used for AI research. Also included in that statement was a promise for additional features for artists to control how their art would be used to come in the new year.

More recently, Kickstarter gave a similarly vague stance on AI art, saying it would have to consider projects featuring AI-based art on a case-by-case basis. Campaigns that explicitly use AI art that's in clear violation of copyright would be suspended, but campaigns that don't explicitly mention using AI art may be more debatable. 

However, The Verge pointed out that other art platforms have been more conclusive with their stances with AI art. Getty Images banned AI art from being uploaded and sold in order to address copyright concerns. 

Conversely, Shutterstock not only permits the technology on its platform, but is also setting up a "Contributor Fund" that will reimburse creators whose work is used in AI research. 

Game Developer has contacted ArtStation's parent company Epic Games, and will update when a response is given.

Update, 12/27: During the holiday, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney explained why ArtStation's tagging feature for AI research is turned off by default, and gave some of his own views on the use of AI technology in art. 

"I don't want Epic to be a company that stifles innovation," wrote Sweeney. "We're not locking AI out by default, because that would turn Epic into a "You can't make AI" gatekeeper by default and prohibit uses that would fall under copyright law's fair use rules."

According to Sweeney, several Epic artists have used AI tools in their non-work projects, and his hope is that the art industry will help guide the technology "into a clearer role that supports artists." He also refuted claims that Epic had either financial stakes in AI developers or plans to create its own AI generator.

He added that Epic doesn't find AI inherently wrong, and said the choice to block AI use falls on individual artists rather than Epic or ArtStation as companies. 

"Epic is in the same boat as everyone else," continued Sweeney. "Whether a particular implementation and use of AI violates copyright depends on the specifics."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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