The AOI’s Stance on AI

February 2023

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) text-to-image generating platforms are raising significant concerns for illustrators and the wider creative community. The platforms commercialising text-to-image generation emerged in 2022 and the issues surrounding them, including reproduction rights, continue to develop at a fast pace. 

AI image generation platforms are continually trained and improved using large data sets. These data sets are made up of a vast number of images scraped from the internet by trawling bots. Millions of images, including illustrations, are currently being scraped without their creator’s permission or knowledge.

The AOI believe that only data where the owner has given explicit permission should be used by AI for training. As illustrators, we each own the copyright in our work, therefore the unauthorised copying of images then used commercially within a dataset can be a copyright infringement. Your intellectual property is the most valuable thing that you own as a creator, and it should never be freely exploited without your consent. 

Alongside the issue of copyright infringement, visual artists have concerns about the commercial application of AI-generated works undermining our existing working models. We are yet to see the extent to which businesses and commissioners will utilise this technology, and how this may shape our industry moving forwards.  

Many illustrators are keen to engage with new technologies, and some may wish to explore using AI in their own practices. We do not wish to hinder technological advancements or limit the creative communities’ ability to utilise and benefit from AI. However, for these platforms to be used ethically, there needs to be a legal framework in place, that does not freely exploit the intellectual property of creators without permission or remuneration. 

For this reason, the AOI does not currently intend to promote AI-generated artwork and works produced using AI text-to-image generating software are not currently eligible to be entered into the World Illustration Awards. This will be reconsidered if the protection of the rights of artists is built into the business model of AI platforms.  

We are working alongside several other organisations, including the Association of Photographers, the British Copyright Council, the European Illustration Forum, and the Creators’ Rights Allianceto campaign against to use of copyrighted works in AI datasets and to amplify the voice of creatives in conversation with government. 

We aim to inform and help illustrators navigate this changing landscape as it develops and to share different perspectives from within our community. To find out more about AI developments and campaigning see our AI Updates resource page, which contains links to related news articles and opinion pieces.

You can also sign up to the AOI newsletter for AI campaigning updates and events. 

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