With the emergence of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) resources like DALL-E and ChatGPT, comes the question of whether or not it is ethical to use these sources in regards to the possibility of infringing copyright standards/laws. When both of these applications became popular early this year and was the talk of the town around school, I was hesitant to try them out as more advanced AI applications always seemed quite daunting and sort of freaky to me. As ChatGPT and DALL-E became more and more prevalent however, I decided to try out DALL-E first when I was stumped as to how I could incorporate pictures on my blog/blog posts. When I was designing my homepage, I wanted an artistic picture that screamed fashion, New York, and creativity. With several prompt generations, I was able to get the perfect picture that resembled very closely what I had in mind, and I have used DALL-E a number of times throughout different posts and instances on my website ever since then. I find it to be a great creative tool that aids my ability to achieve the desired aesthetic and look of my blog.
As copyright for DALL-E generated images is still being discovered, I always reference the resource when I use an generated image on my blog posts, assignments, etc. From what we know, DALL-E generates its images from combining a number of sources that it finds on the web. Whether or not these images are copyrighted, or in the public domain, we are unsure. According to Dr. Gregory Younging’s, Traditional Knowledge Exists:; Intellectual Property Is Invented Or Created, a journal we read for class, the Intellectual Property Rights system is based on the premise that, “ although the author or creator deserves recognition and compensation for his or her work because it is the product of his or her genius, all of society must eventually be able to benefit from that genius” (Younging, 2015). I think that this statement speaks a lot of truth.
Ultimately, the goal of many artists, writers, etc, is to share their work to the public and put themselves out there in their desired industry. Sharing their work is the part of their job that allows them to generate success and build a name for themselves, so it is not fair that a part of their career often involves their work being stolen or not being referenced/given credit. Copyright has helped reduce the number of cases like this and has made the internet a safer place for artists and others to share their work while still being able to protect it, but the introduction of AI has now reversed and altered a lot of the progress that had been made in regards to established copyright standards. If Artificial Intelligence is going to be using the work of other artists and writers to transform their output into something “original”, there should be a reference/works cited list that gives credit to the artists whose work was incorporated into the creation of a DALL-E image for example. We already know that Artificial Intelligence is very capable and smart enough to generate many complex as well as creative outputs, so including a reference list should not be outside of the applications limits, and rather, quite easy for it to do. Doing so would enhance the ethics of the source, and allow for artists to continue getting credit for their work, regardless of whether or not only a part of it has been integrated into the output of an AI piece.
Until we gain a better understanding of the copyright aspect to Artificial intelligence applications, I encourage you to reference the source when you use it to generate an image, paragraph, or anything for that matter. This way, you will not only be practicing the act of citing your sources, but you will also be protecting yourself from possible copyright infringement if OpenAI or any Artificial Intelligence application suddenly comes out with a set of copyright laws on their work in the near future. In short, it is always better to reference/cite work that you did not create on your own, especially in cases where you are unsure if it is necessary or not. It is better to have more work cited, than to have none.
If you would like to take a look at Gregory Younging’s journal article that I referenced earlier, you can find it here: https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1902&context=jil
Antonelli, W. (2022). How to use DALL-E mini, the viral AI tool that can turn any prompt into a series of pictures. Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/guides/tech/dall-e-mini
Younging, G. (2015). Traditional Knowledge Exists; Intellectual Property Is Invented Or Created. University of Pennsylvania.https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1902&context=jil
Post feature image generated by DALL-E.