As AI image generators are all the rage, companies are looking for new datasets for their machine-learning algorithms to devour. DeviantArt, one of the oldest and largest online art communities, recently introduced an AI art generator called DreamUp.
While the generator didn’t cause much uproar, the changes in DeviantArt’s terms of service did. A prolific concept artist with 17 years of work hosted on DeviantArt created a thread on Twitter bemoaning the policies regarding DreamUp and opting out of inclusion in the AI’s dataset initially required users to untick a checkbox on every artwork. Removing all artwork from DeviantArt’s dataset would require artists to fill out a form, subject to a manual review of up to ten business days. Additionally, DeviantArt couldn’t give any guarantees on artwork appearing in third-party datasets.
As the uproar spread across the web, DeviantArt scrambled to modify the changes in order to calm their upset user base. A new choice was introduced in DeviantArt’s preferences to opt out of inclusion in any AI datasets. The damage had been done by then, as evidenced by one of the bigger artists (Stjepan Sejic) leaving the online community, just before replacing a lot of their artwork with a hand-drawn potato. The page hosting the potato then reportedly reached 30 million visits on the platform…
DeviantArt later issued an apology, together with the decision to allow creators on their platform to explicitly give their consent for including their artworks on AI datasets. The feature is now disabled by default, and users have to opt-in instead of opting out of the features; as to why DeviantArt didn’t implement the feature like that in the first place and avoid the public backlash of the past few days remains unclear.