Using AI Responsibly as a Professional Designer

February 22, 2024

From image generation to editing tools, artificial intelligence (AI) has become an indispensable part of the designer's toolkit. At DeadLizard, we think of AI as a way to augment our process and streamline repetitive tasks, rather than as a substitute for human expertise and creativity. But one of the challenges of the rapid evolution of generative AI in particular is the fact that the technology often doesn't consider the implications of copyright law.

Navigating the Copyright Challenges of Generative AI

Many AI tools scrape the internet for images, which poses a risk for designers and their clients, as unauthorized use of copyrighted content can lead to litigation and reputational damage. The responsibility falls on designers to be cautious and prioritize using AI tools that operate with proper clearances and rights to sourced images. When using AI-generated imagery in your final designs for delivery, it's crucial to make sure you have the proper rights and clearances. This means making sure you have permission to use the images and that they're not infringing on anyone else's rights.

One way to do this is by using sources with rights to the images for their proprietary Large Language Models (LLMs). These sources typically have agreements in place with content creators that allow them to use the images in their AI models. While these sources may be more expensive, they provide peace of mind knowing that the images are legally obtained and can be used without fear of copyright infringement.

By limiting your use of AI-generated images to these reputable sources, you can avoid potential legal issues and ensure that your designs are created ethically and responsibly. Additionally, using sources with rights to the images for their LLMs helps support content creators and encourages the development of AI technologies in a sustainable and legal manner.

Using Licensed AI Toolsets To Keep Things Legal

Companies like Adobe and Getty Images are offering licensed AI toolsets, making sure everything's legal and avoiding issues with using copyrighted material. By using these reputable sources, designers can confidently incorporate AI into their workflows without running afoul of the legal and ethical problems associated with using copyrighted material.

In practice, AI tools such as those integrated into the Adobe Creative Suite have proven invaluable for designers, providing access to a vast library of licensed images and enabling seamless integration and manipulation within design projects.

We had a client who had a piece of work that was generated through AI, but they were unsure about its copyright status and whether they could use it safely. To ensure that everything was on the up and up both legally and ethically, we recreated the piece using our licensed Adobe tools.

By recreating the work in Adobe, we made sure that it was legally sound and could be reused without any worries about copyright issues. (The image featured with this post is the result of our effort.) Ultimately, by relying on trusted tools, designers can create with confidence, knowing they are complying with copyright regulations and protecting themselves from potential legal risks.

Being Cautious About the 'Gray Areas'

Despite the potential of AI, there are still limitations and gray areas, particularly when it comes to the modification of copyrighted material. While there is legal precedent that that modification transforms the work into something new, determining the amount of modification that qualifies is subjective and legally ambiguous. Designers have to tread carefully to avoid legal entanglements and protect their clients' interests.

AI holds incredible promise as a tool for professional designers, offering unprecedented efficiency and capabilities. However, it's essential to approach AI with a nuanced understanding of its capabilities and legal implications. By prioritizing reputable sources and adhering to copyright regulations, designers can harness the power of AI while simultaneously safeguarding against legal risks and supporting the rights of their fellow creatives.

As a client, if you’ve used images created with any generative AI tool that doesn’t own or pay for its source material, it would be wise to immediately explore safeguards against potential copyright infringement claims against you. We’d be happy to discuss recreating images for you that are legally compliant. Let’s talk!