The “hire a human” AI plagiarism scandal

I very rarely scroll the Instagram feed anymore. I’m a TikTok using Gen Zer – sorry! However, I do browse Instagram stories because I love to see what my friends and team members are up to. A stylist friend I know, who has worked with the likes of Celeste and Eliza Doolittle, reposted a very interesting screenshot of a message on her story which stopped me in my shellac-painted scrolling tracks. 

The screenshot was of an Instagram DM which read the following;
“Hi Jack, we actually decided to add some of the works from our Pinterest board into an AI generator and that’s gonna be the album artwork. Hopefully we can work together in the future!” 

Gasp. What is this exactly? I clicked on the post which originated from an account @albumartarchive, the official Instagram account of Studio AAA. The account has a fairly large following, almost amounting to 100k followers. 

The post consisted of two images with the second image being that DM screenshot. The first image is a beautiful designed black and white graphic design poster with a tinge of green. The poster reads, twice, in bold ‘Hire a Human’. The studio’s caption notes at the bottom; “this design was created with –
my human brain
my human hands
my human eyes
human made asset packs (by me)
human made fonts”. 

If you haven’t yet grasped what the post sums up, essentially Studio AAA had been asked to design some album artwork (for money, of course) and instead the client took to an AI generator (assumedly for a lot cheaper) to get the job done instead thus depriving the artists of Studio AAA – in this case, Jack – of work. 

What makes the matter so much worse is that, according to Studio AAA’s caption, “The pinterest board they mentioned was full of my work and tbh it was pretty hard to process.” Here is where I really question the audacity of the agency in capitalising off an artist’s work to create an AI version without paying the artist for their vision. 

The remainder of Jack’s caption states the need for “Intellectual Property laws to move faster toward protecting real human beings from this AI stuff, i have no idea how/where i can contribute to that happening so if you know of any real legit petitions or non profit people actually trying to make a difference, please let me know!”

I am a tech girl and so my opinions on this post are torn. While I think the agency’s behaviour is appalling, I love technological advancements and am very much in favour for the infiltration of AI and other forms of technology into the creation of art – as long as we, human artists, are respected, credited and involved. 

At the end of the day, the client would not have been able to get the work done without Jack, even with AI involved seeing that the AI processed Jack’s work in order to create the album cover. For this, should Jack receive some form of compensation? I think yes. 

Intrigued to know the reception of this post by the minds of others and not just my own, I took to the comments. ‘The new “I can get it cheaper on Fiverr”’ @blkmarket claimed. 

Arguably the most polar opposite comment was that of @sameraman; ‘‘Where do we draw the line of what “AI” is? AI is a search engine, AI is a sharpening plugin on Photoshop, AI is Camera Raw, without AI we are unable to design on a computer and we’d be designing everything piece of paper. These generators are not cloning work, or stealing anything, they’re just learning from other work/styles of art and so on.
[…] Utilise the tools given to you or get left behind – we have to stop this stubbornness towards evolving technology, embrace it !’

While this is a harsh comment, they make a fair point in that we can’t fight technology – but at the point where our work is being plagiarised and artists are receiving no credit or compensation? Surely not. Where do we draw the line? 

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