There is an important UPDATE to this "X" File at the bottom of this page.
Well, it's happened yet again. An artist at the Deep Dream Generator has discovered an Instagram account that has dozens of stolen images from dozens of artists at DDG. They reported their discovery to the other artists, and now the whole community is in an uproar and having a big tizzy about it ... YET AGAIN!
This is an ongoing issue that keeps repeating itself, over and over and over, and it doesn't just happen at DDG, it happens at every single AI art generating website that publishes the images that are made there publicly.
Think about it. ALL of these websites have huge libraries of absolutely FREE IMAGES. They're all out there, ready to be browsed and downloaded by the viewer. They're often published with huge dimensions, suitable for printing, and they're just a click away to be taken by anyone. OF COURSE THEY'RE BEING STOLEN!
I can understand why the artists are upset, it's happened to me before also, but to see artists that I know have already gone through this several times in the past still getting so upset is beyond my comprehension! How many MORE times do they have to go through it before they realize that it's just a common, ongoing part of publishing their work publicly with no sort of protection? Really, they should be eXpecting it to happen by now.
It's a totally common problem that happens each and every day. So why isn't anything being done about it?
THE AI WEBSITES AND APPS
The people who run these AI websites and apps are 100% aware of this problem, yet they do absolutely nothing about it. In fact, many of them actually encourage taking the images by offering a download button right under the artwork being viewed. DDG isn't this brazen (any more), but they know they don't have to be. Everybody knows how to download an image from a web page.
I remember talking to the folks at DDG about this issue, must have been over 6 months ago now. They told me they were going to do 'this' and they were going to do 'that' to discourage image theft, yet they still haven't done a thing at all about it, half a year later.
I think the people who run these AI sites know that having these huge libraries of awesome artwork available really drives a lot of traffic to their websites. They know that many of the visitors just come to view the artwork and take the pictures they like from the site. Not all of these people will claim the artwork as their own somewhere else, in fact, it's probably only a small percentage of them who do, but there are likely many people who don't even create AI artwork that are simply coming to the site to view (and take) the artwork they like there.
The people running these sites are smart. I mean, come on, they have to be! If they wanted to do something about art theft, they WOULD. They could change the code in the page to remove downloading options, they could make the images displayed & downloaded much SMALLER than the dimensions the artists created them in, they could place watermarks on the downloaded images if they wanted to, BUT APPARENTLY THEY DON'T WANT TO!
They are fully aware that the images are being downloaded, they are fully aware that they are often uploaded elsewhere and claimed by others, they are fully aware that this is upsetting to their own community artists, and yet they still do nothing at all about it, even though they COULD.
So I think we must come to the conclusion that this is the way that they want it to be.
YOU AND YOUR ARTWORK
If the AI art sites refuse to do anything to protect your work, what can be done? Well, obviously, it's up to YOU to protect your own artwork. If you do nothing, eXpect your work to be taken. Don't act all surprised and shocked when it happens, it's all part of the AI 'game', and has been happening as long as AI artwork has been made and displayed.
The first thing you could do is stop publishing publicly. There, problem fiXed! Many have actually done this, but then you'll miss out on getting likes and comments and whatever other treasures the AI sites might shower upon you! I guess in a way, these 'treasures' are your payment for making images to be displayed to the masses. The AI sites know this is highly addictive and that you'll probably just keep pumping out pictures for them, (and yourself, of course).
One thing that might help is if you publish your images in the smallest dimensions possible. Keep those eXtra-large high-def images to yourself, (when possible). From what I've seen and eXperienced, the art thieves just LOVE those eXtra big images and it makes them prime targets to be stolen.
Another thing, and I can tell you that this really helps, is to stop publishing without watermarks of some sort on your work. Many AI sites now offer some way for you to mark your work, so USE IT ALREADY! Since I started adding watermarks to my published pieces, they have stopped being stolen and uploaded elsewhere for sale and other purposes, (to my knowledge).
Art thieves don't seem to want to spend the time removing watermarks. Why would they? There's another unmarked image available right over there!
A BIT MORE RAMBLING ON THIS SUBJECT...
You know, when you think about it, it's a fabulous system these AI sites have devised for themselves.
YOU write the prompts that are displayed for anyone else to use. YOU make the amazing pictures that are free for anyone to download. And then YOU PAY the websites for the pleasure of doing all this work for them, ABSOLUTELY FOR FREE! Then your hard work brings them a lot of traffic and new users, who will often start doing the eXact same thing you are for them! What a racket!
Can you imagine if there was an AI website that actually focused on the artists and their artwork? A place where artists didn't feel the need to compete with each other and could keep their prompts and artwork to themselves? I bet such a place would blow the doors off of their competition, but I won't hold my breath waiting for such a site to materialize. I'll keep hunting though, and I'll let you know if I find it! ; )
In the meantime, I hope you'll find a way to protect your work somehow. I have, though I do get penalized for how I'm doing it.
And don't act shocked if you do absolutely nothing and then find out you've been ripped off again. Continuing down the same old path means that you should be used to giving it all away for free.
January 12th, 2024
So yeah, MURPHY'S LAW is REAL...
I had literally just finished writing this article, uploaded it here to MisterX.ca so it would be public and could be read, and then right afterward went over to Deep Dreams to check out the site.
Once there, I found out that while I was doing all this, DEEP DREAMS MADE A CHANGE TO THE SITE TO HELP AVOID ART THEFT! I think we both must have uploaded our site changes at nearly the eXact same time!
We DDG artists have literally been waiting YEARS for something to be done about art theft at DDG, and then when they finally DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, it's at the eXact same time I write and publish an "X" File that bitches and complains about them doing nothing at all!
Really, it's quite an amazing coincidence.
So, with this new information, I guess I have to backtrack a teeny tiny bit on all the negativity I wrote above earlier today. Honestly, I take my hat off to the DDG gods for FINALLY doing something about this. Removing the right click option is an amazing START in stopping all the art thefts that have been going on for as long as anyone can remember there, but it's only just a START!
It should have been done many months ago, but later is much better than never, and I applaud their efforts. I also applaud the efforts of all the artists who must have written in to DDG and voiced their concerns about this, as I feel this is the real reason they finally did something. They were probably sick and tired of listening to all of the complaints!
Whatever the reason(s) for this happening, thank goodness it's finally started.
Of course there are STILL ways to nab the images at DDG, and if any of the thieves actually have brains in their heads, they'll figure them out.
There are a lot of things DDG can still do to protect the artwork (and artists), but seeing this first step being done is VERY ENCOURAGING!
Even kinder regards than earlier today,
January 12th, 2024 (later in the day than before)