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From the "X" Files

A.I. artwork and Copyrights ©

Some people wonder why I put a copyright symbol on my A.I. generated artwork. Here's the reason(s) why...

Sometimes folks ask me why I add a copyright symbol (©) to the watermark that I place on my AI artwork, and when they do, it's usually accompanied with the added comment, "You DO know that AI images can't be copyrighted, right?"

Well, for what it's worth, I'm going to eXplain it here. Maybe it'll help reduce the times I'm asked this, or I'll be able to direct people who do ask in the future to this page. Maybe it'll also help out other AI artists when deciding whether or not to use a copyright symbol (©) on their own AI artwork.

OK, so let's get into it, shall we?


First and foremost, having a © symbol placed within my watermark is a deterrant to the art thieves out there. I've been ripped off several times in the past, having people take my artwork and then claim it as their own, so anything that helps alleviate this issue is a good thing as far as I am concerned.

The © symbol is a very polite way of saying, "PISS OFF! Leave this artwork alone!", and since I'm a Canadian, being polite is important to me!


I know it's very difficult for some Americans (and others) to grasp that there's an entire world that eXists beyond their borders, BUT THERE IS! Just because there was a legal ruling in YOUR COUNTRY saying that AI created artwork can't be copyrighted, that doesn't mean this ruling applies to ME! Different countries have different laws, and what happens in your country doesn't apply to the entire planet, (well, most of the time, that is).

But even if that specific court ruling DID apply to the whole world, there were a lot of 'openings' left in the ruling, especially for artwork that has been manually manipulated somehow by a human being, and I do, a LOT! Every single image I publish these days has been manually fiddled with by me so I can get the look and feel I want, and I believe this fiddling makes the work MINE.

Sometimes the fiddling I do is minor. I'll get my image from the AI and decide that it needs stars, or a sun or moon, or clouds in the sky, and I will add them and then re-render the piece. Or sometimes I also remove things that I think the AI was wrong with placing into the picture.

But sometimes the fiddling is MAJOR, and the entire work I make in AI is from a collage I've created, or a photograph I've taken, and I'll feed it into the AI and then make changes afterward. Sometimes I'll even make dozens of generations/renderings of the same image until I get it right. There's a LOT of human 'fiddling' when I make my artwork, and a single image usually takes me hours, if not days, to create.

I think this 'work' makes the image MINE, even though the AI has technically created the picture. The AI has created the image that I wanted it to make for me!


I've mentioned this before somewhere back in my "X" Files, but it's really worth mentioning again. Using AI to create images with is just a tool, albeit an AMAZING tool! Not everyone who picks up a paint brush or pencil can create artwork with them, but some folks certainly can!

AI worX the same. A lot of folks who make images with it aren't really "artists". It's more like a game, a simple pastime for them. Sure, sometimes they come up with amazing images, but the AI gets the credit for them. They've used other people's prompts or images and have stumbled into making what appears to be a masterpiece, and I think many legal precedents have been based on this.

But for some people, (you know who you are, and so do the rest of us), creating with AI is truly an art form! It doesn't matter if you're creating pictures just with words, or if you're 'fiddling' like I am, you're making ARTWORK. I happen to place myself in the 'making artwork' category, so I believe that gives me the right to claim copyright on my work. I really don't care what other people think, it's MY decision to determine what my creations are.


So I wanted to make an image that would get my point across, but was having an artistic block while trying to think of what I should create. I decided to go back and look through my gallery for some inspiration and DOH, there it was, all over my gallery! Why not just use my watermark and see what I might make?

So I set it against a cloudy blue background and told the AI to make it wooden, with birch bark, and detailed red leaves with veins! After a few tries I eventually came up with this image:

A table displays strange items in a nature setting with trees and mountains. Unrecognizable items and beings scattered about.

"Wooden Watermark"

It's a simple image, but I think it proves my point beautifully. Yes, the AI technically 'created' the image, but there was obviously some serious human fiddling involved behind the scenes while it made it. It's an eXtreme eXample, but shows how much a human can be involved in the creation of AI artwork.

Who can seriously tell me that I can't claim a copyright on this image? It literally incorporates my signature into it, or at least a very close facsimile of it, and I say that it's MINE!

I'd add my watermark with its copyright symbol to it, but somehow don't feel it's necessary in this case. Ironically, this is likely the only image I'll ever upload to that doesn't have one!

When it comes right down to it, only an artist can determine if their artwork deserves to have a copyright (©) symbol on it. Only THEY know how much work they put into the prompt. Only THEY know how much work they put into their source image. Only THEY have the power to place it there.

Does it really matter what a court has determined? Does it really matter what others think?

NO! - Only YOU can class your pieces as being copyright worthy. Only YOU know the work that was involved in making it. If others don't agree with your decision to place it there, let them prove you wrong!

That's why I add my copyright symbol to my artwork that is made using AI. I feel I have the right to. I feel the work is MINE, I feel that a court's decisions on the subject (especially foreign courts) don't matter and aren't applicable to me. I feel that only an AI artist can determine whether or not they actually ARE artists and if their artwork is original and worth protecting with a "©".

I add it because I want to, and because no one has the authority to tell me otherwise!

Protect YOUR artwork and claim it as YOUR own. That's my suggestion to you!


April 26th, 2024