Re: DeviantArt’s DreamUp announcement

November 15, 2022

Here at CO2ign Art, we’re keeping a close eye on developments in the AI art space. So we were very interested to see DeviantArt’s announcement on Friday that they were launching their own AI art tool, DreamUp, as well as a new directive to tell image crawlers not to use your art for AI model training.

“DeviantArt’s Stance on AI Art” has some good stuff that aligns with our thinking here at CO2ign Art:

  1. Artists should be able to tell third party AI datasets not to use their content.
  2. Artists should be able to choose whether or not AI-images can be generated in your style.
  3. If an artist isn’t opted out, and their style is referenced in a prompt, they should be clearly credited. 
  4. AI images should be clearly marked as such. 
  5. Viewers should have control over how much AI art they see. 

The “noai” directive they suggest is also right along with the thinking we have at CO2ign Art. We believe there needs to be a web standard set to identify images whose creators have not consented to their work being used in training, and that all “portfolio” type platforms where artists upload their work should apply this to all images automatically. 

We’re glad to see that DeviantArt swiftly responded to community feedback and the “noai” directive is now added to all artists’ work by default.

However, we’re disappointed in the decision to go forward with the launch of DreamUp, which undermines their message where otherwise they could have been a leader in this area and a voice for artists.

The wording in the announcement has been updated since the initial version, but it currently reads:

While DreamUp is based on third-party technologies (like Stable Diffusion) which have trained their models with the open web, DeviantArt does NOT and WILL NOT add images submitted on DeviantArt to these training sets, on or off the platform.

It may be true DeviantArt has not added images on DeviantArt to AI training sets, but images on DeviantArt have been used to train AI models – in particular, any models using the LAION-5B dataset, which uses 5 billion images scraped from the web, including from DeviantArt. From DeviantArt’s announcement again:

DeviantArt’s updated Terms of Service also apply to all users of the LAION datasets, including to any further training of Stable Diffusion or derivative models. This means that deviants can declare whether or not the content they submit on DeviantArt is authorized for inclusion in third-party datasets used to train artificial-intelligence models.

The updates Deviantart has made mean that any further training of models using images that have been opted-out with their new directive will be in violation of DeviantArt’s ToS, which is good. However, the existing Stable Diffusion model that DreamUp uses was trained on the LAION dataset prior to these changes. In order to truly remove opted-out art from the model, it would need to be re-trained on a new image set re-crawled from the web while respecting the new directive – a large endeavor that no one has currently committed to. So, currently and for the immediate future, DreamUp is using a model trained on images from DeviantArt (among other sites) without artist consent.

We believe that AI art can be a powerful tool. DeviantArt is trying to set a more ethical standard for AI art, and their approaches are steps in the right direction. It’s unfortunate that they’ve jumped on the Stable Diffusion bandwagon rather than holding a firm stance on supporting artists.

At CO2ign Art, we want to do everything we can to support artists in their work. Today, we’ve added DeviantArt’s “noai” directive to all pages on our website – so if and when a new image set is re-crawled while respecting opt-outs, no images from CO2ign Art will be included. (Note that since CO2ign Art is a very new platform, no images from it are included in the existing LAION datasets.)

As part of our mission to support artists, we plan to continue to push for developments in this space.