I don’t think I’ve ever seen art theft quite like this before. Two days ago, a Genshin Impact fanartist was painting a new creation on Twitch. Before they could even finish the fanart and post it to Twitter, one of their viewers fed the work-in-progress into an AI generator and “completed” it first. After the artist posted their completed art, the art thief proceeded to demand credit from the original artist. “You posted like 5-6 hours after me, and for that kind of drawing, you can make it fast,” the swindler brazenly tweeted. “You took [a] reference [from] an AI image but at least admit it.”
AT is a Korean-language anime artist who streams process videos on Twitch. On October 11, they painted Raiden Shogun from Genshin Impact in front of a live audience. Then a Twitter user named Musaishh took the in-process image, created a similar image of Raiden Shogun with Novel AI, and then uploaded it six hours before the artist’s stream ended. Maybe they would have gotten away with it if they hadn’t tried to attack AT for posting their own art. Musaishh has since deleted their account. Probably because a lot of fans and artists got pissed off at their blatant art theft. When you fuck around, you should expect to find out.
Since the software behind AI-generated art became mainstream, flesh-and-blood artists have struggled to maintain control over their works. Now they have to concern themselves with proving that they’re the creators at all. In response to the incident, one artist reminded their audience to keep backup streams of their process. Several artists tweeted that they didn’t want to stream their work-in-progress again. “Now any of us can be accused by art thieves of ‘stealing’ because their AI art ‘finished’ the piece first,” wrote one artist.
If you’ve been reading this website in the past several months, you probably know that AI-generated art is an ethical landmine. The software takes data from copyrighted art without the original creators’ knowledge or permission and attempts to create a new image out of it. I’m a bit of an outlier among art enjoyers in that I think the technology itself has fascinating potential for creating ethical art with creators’ permission. But as long as artists don’t have legal protection against their art being stolen and mangled in unscrupulous ways, that day is still a long way off.
But hey, I want to end this blog on a positive note. Here’s the original painting of Raiden Shogun for your viewing pleasure: