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Should You Use AI Images In Your Content?

The Ethical and Legal Challenges With AI-Generated Art

By Andrea LawrencePublished about a year ago 7 min read
Prompt: “grainy painting of a picnic on the rings of Saturn, Fauvist, stellar” via Midjourney v4, 16 December 2022 | Wiki Commons, Cameron Butler

Slow down and think twice before using AI-generated art. This is new territory, and if you’re not careful—it could get you into legal trouble. This article will explain in detail why AI art is problematic.

What Is AI Art?

AI-generated art comes from a context or multiple contexts. It’s basically a random generator that puts together an image based on a database of curated art and photographs. A large number of sources could be used for a single image.

Lensa has already received negative criticism. Artists claim it has stolen their work and manipulated it for the app. Lensa recently came into the spotlight after it trended on Facebook and Instagram.

It’s the Wild West When It Comes to Copyright Laws

Right now, there aren’t clear copyright rules or legislation about how and when AI-generated art can be used. If you’re unaware of the primary source(s) that an AI used to create an artwork, it could be extremely problematic and even costly. The artist or artists who created the works that were manipulated into one image could sue you.

The safest AI-generated art is based on images from the public domain. In almost all cases, public domain art should be safe to use. Unfortunately, there are tons of images where you can’t really determine what were the original sources. There are no laws that require AI generators to cite their sources.

Eventually, there will be technology that can figure out where an AI generator pulled its information. Consider it like using Google’s reverse image finder. Data can be traced, so don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s impossible to trace AI art’s origins.

AI art creates a whole host of ethical problems and copyright nightmares. Do you really want to get caught up in that? If you’re a freelance content creator who uses images, this really isn’t the safest route. You could use generated art today and not get in trouble for it for years to come when laws finally catch up to this new technology. You might forget that you posted something like this on one of your websites, and then all of a sudden you’re getting emails from a lawyer representing an artist.

Funky Images Challenge Your Authenticity and Authority

AI images also run the risk of making your content look fake. It could influence your site’s authority score. It’s not a good idea to rely heavily on this form of artwork because it might make it harder to build trust with your audience. You have to be picky about when you use AI art; it needs to serve a purpose.

There is a good chance that scammers will rely heavily on AI art. We’ve already seen deep fakes used to create false advertisements, political schemes, and celebrity impressions. None of this was done with people’s consent. That spells trouble.

Here is a personal anecdote: I recently followed a deep fake of Keanu Reeves on TikTok. I didn’t think much of it, but I thought the account was funny. What TikTok user doesn’t follow accounts they find funny? But then something weird happened. A whole bunch of deep fake Keanu Reeves accounts started following me. Not only is that creepy, but I have no idea what these accounts want. I may have just opened Pandora’s box to let something nefarious scrub information on me or follow me for whatever reason.

I also didn’t realize that the Keanu Reeves account was fake at first. I first thought it was someone who was impersonating the famous actor. I even made a comment to the account that they should get really good at stunts and become Reeves’ new stunt double.

The Internet is going to change wildly these next few years as AI technology accelerates. It’ll be harder to tell who is real, what content is actually written by a human, and what art is authentic. There is going to be a lot of mistrust and suspicion because of all the fake information that’s going to spread. Fake news is already a problem, and a lot of people don’t have enough literacy to determine what is real and what is fake.

The best scenario for curbing all the bad consequences of AI-generated works would be that Google, other search websites, and governments crack down on these activities. But these entities are usually slow to push back.

People are going to get catfished by bots. People are going to look for ways to get your information and steal your identity or money (as they do now). People are going to use these sketchy means for their own agendas.

I’m not so worried about countries using these techniques. I think regular old criminals will use these tools just fine without the help of a larger, more potent power behind it.

If It’s Convenient, There Is Usually a Catch

I think it’s wise to be extremely cautious when it comes to using AI art. If you don’t know what is the true source of something it’s likely not a good idea to use it whether that’s when researching an article, using a picture, or eating a piece of food. You need to know the origin of things, otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for misfortune.

AI-generated images often look unusual, if not deformed. If you’re not good at studying pictures and knowing instinctively what is a good picture, it might be best to avoid AI images altogether. You don’t want to use a picture of deformed fruit when you could go to a free image website where images have been sorted and take a fruit picture from there. You could also take your own pictures of fruit.

Certain Parties Are Far More Litigious Than Others

I think using AI art of celebrities is a really bad idea. Celebrities are eventually going to fight for their representation, and I doubt they like their image being used randomly for whatever purpose without their consent.

Also, people who take pictures of celebrities are going to want to protect their work and will want to be paid. Some celebrity photographs cost a fortune—like the Princess Diana ones where she and Wayne Sleep performed a dance number to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” at the Royal Opera House. This was back in 1985. It was a surprise for Prince Charles’ birthday. He wasn’t amused.

The photographs of her dance were kept private for years, but the photographer who worked for the Royal Opera House, Reg Wilson, eventually released them. I can’t imagine the photographer would be happy to see their work manipulated.

Warning for Photographers: Be Careful Where You Upload Your Images

I recently received an email from Shutterstock that my images are going to be used by an AI art generator. I’ll be compensated for it, but I’m not happy about it. I think it’s weird that my work could be manipulated in unusual ways. I didn’t really give my consent for this to happen. I never thought Shutterstock would merge with AI usage. I might have thought twice before signing up for an account if I knew this was going to happen.

I mostly take pictures of leaves, flowers, and seasonal things for Shutterstock, so it’s not a huge deal. But should I have models who took pictures for me—should I have them sign new release forms since their images could be drastically altered?

Identity Mayhem

I’m not thrilled that AI is taking off for art and writing. It creates a whole host of new problems. It’s going to get to the point that someone could pretend to be me and then bank off my shtick for passive income. Literally, this could bankrupt me. What if my copycat does a better job than me?

John Green asked ChatGPT to write a script in the style of the Vlog Brothers with a tinge of the King James Bible and to cover the topic of whether AI could write novels. The AI did a scarily accurate job creating the script, which inspired a great deal of thought from the famous YouTuber.

My suggestion: think carefully and slow down about everything on the Internet. Think twice before giving anything your money. Less time online and more time in the real world is good for you. It’s easy to get scammed, and it’s only going to get easier until governments or something like it starts regulating this stuff. Seriously, watch your impulses when you use technology. Don’t be too hasty about anything.

Legislators Largely Aren’t Tech Savvy

Unfortunately, legislators are getting carried away with the wrong topics that don’t actually affect the bulk of people—like senators who get bent out of shape over trans students in sports. Just let them play!

In the United States, there are a lot of politicians in office simply because of their hateful views not because they know anything about tech. To make matters worse, you could argue the United States is overwhelmingly run by a gerontocracy. A gerontocracy is a government ruled by older people—the US has several positions filled by octogenarians (or seniors who are eerily close to their 80s).

Do we expect our elders to really understand technology? There are big differences in the way those who grew up with technology think vs. those who received technology later in life. Sure, there are older people who buck this trend, but on the whole, my great-grandparents are less likely to know how to use a computer than my 12-year-old nephew.

Until more tech-savvy people get into office, the problems of tech are just going to get kicked down the line. That tends to be the American way. Legislators don’t want to solve difficult problems. They like to stall them. This means a lot of people are going to have very little in the way of protections when it comes to AI-generated chaos.


Do I recommend using AI-generated art? I think you should really consider if it’s necessary to tell your story. If it’s not, then use something else with a reliable license. Use something that’s less likely to cause you trouble in the future.

You can use Google images and set the settings to free-to-use images. Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash are just some of the sites that offer free photographs. Make sure you link to these images. I’ve had more problems with Unsplash than any of the other sites when it comes to sudden broken links. If you get a broken link, remove the picture immediately and replace it with something else. Wiki Commons is another great resource. You can also create graphics on Canva.

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Originally published: https://andrealawrence2468.medium.com/should-you-use-ai-images-in-your-content-dbe977677a17

tech newssocial mediaphotographyfuturecybersecurityapps

About the Creator

Andrea Lawrence

Freelance writer. Undergrad in Digital Film and Mass Media. Master's in English Creative Writing. Spent six years working as a journalist. Owns one dog and two cats.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  • Person374about a year ago

    Answer: never post AI images as your own

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