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Images that criticise AI art are being withheld by ArtStation

ArtStation, an online gallery for visual art, has taken down photographs opposing AI-generated artwork off its homepage, citing a violation of its terms of service. Since AI-generated artwork appeared on ArtStation in early December, the site’s user base has been vocally opposed to the trend. Protesters argue that AI-generated artwork frequently plagiarises the work of human artists without providing proper credit or financial remuneration.

ArtStation explained the deletions in a tweet: “For site usability, we are filtering submissions that violate our Terms of Service. Concerns about AI and its potential influence on business are valid. In the near future, we plan to reveal additional details regarding upcoming updates to ArtStation that will offer users greater agency over their experience.

ArtStation has extensive authority to delete content for a variety of reasons, including if users “send spam or other mass communications,” however it is unclear whether of the platforms’ Terms of Service are being broken by anti-AI artwork. We’ve asked ArtStation for comment and will revise this if we get a response.

Artists in the fields of video games, cinema, and comics have long relied on the online portfolio and community that is ArtStation (which was bought by Epic Games in 2021). As early as this year, the site began to feature more and more AI-generated graphics due to the rise in popularity of AI tools like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney. There was a petition from artists asking Artstation to remove this work, but the firm declined, leading to the spread of “No AI Art” pictures. ArtStation exacerbated the problem by making their new ‘NoAI Tagging’ feature, which protects artists’ work from being scraped to train AI technologies, optional rather than the default.

As with every new technology, other creative platforms have responded to this one in their own unique ways. In response to legal and copyright concerns, Getty Images has banned the upload and sale of illustrations generated using AI art tools. In contrast, rival stock image database Shutterstock has embraced the technology, announcing a “Contributor Fund” that will reimburse creators when the company sells work to train text-to-image AI models like DALL-E. Some businesses have come out in favour of the recent surge in popularity of generative art, with many pointing to the fact that it may serve as yet another resource for artists rather than a threat to their livelihoods.