Artificial intelligence for book covers

PastyAlien

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Copyright law has room for exceptions, but they are very specific, narrow, and well-established. None of them apply in whole to mass scraped and AI-trained-and-generated work, and certainly not to anyone or anything generating profit from other people's copyrighted works. "Publicly available" does not invalidate a copyright.
Exactly. The first class action lawsuit was just announced. And there's a good write-up here about the case in layman's terms.
The idea that "AI is no different than art students going to the museum" is basically BS from a legal standpoint.
Yes. People who use this argument (which I've seen several times on Mastodon today) should educate themselves about how AI "art" is generated. The algorithm isn't inspired by art. It isn't a dewy-eyed student who falls in love with a masterpiece and dedicates their life to learning the Great Masters' techniques. It's this:

stablediffusion.png

(From that same article I mentioned above.)


As ever, caveat emptor: let the buyer beware. It's one thing to use it for personal enjoyment, another to use it for commercial purposes, which could end up costing an end-user a lot more than they bargained for.
I wonder if Tor is gonna regret their decision to go ahead with AI-generated cover art?

ETA: I've learned that @ElaineA started a new thread on the lawsuit. I really need to keep up with new posts. 😅 *goes off to catch up*
 
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MaryLennox

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There are SO MANY premade book cover shops popping up on Etsy, clearly selling AI covers to unsuspecting authors. Most of them do not mention AI in their item's description.

Like this: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/TheFlowerCraze
They have over a thousand listings? And they're just putting the same crappy font on every single one? wtf?

Another one, not mentioning AI in their item's description, but clearly MidJourney: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/KateBookCovers

This one actually says they use a bit of MidJourney and other design tools. At least they are sort of being honest: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/TheImageNerd

This is another one that looks like they combine their own design skill with AI and is open about it: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/PixelPerfectRO

Another one that says it's a combo of themselves and MidJourney: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/BlueMoonBookCovers

And one more: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/BowmanBookDesign

So if you are shopping around for a premade book cover, just be aware that this is happening and always ask the designer where they are getting their "stock" from.
 

Cobalt Jade

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Wow, that didn't take long!

First thoughts: all are very, very generic. AI art, thy name is "Female faces, fantasy style, with embellishments." But then, so much of digital art is the same.

Disasters -- fires, volcanos, comets -- are very easy to create in AI, as are outer space scenes.
 

Woollybear

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I was just on Pixabay looking for an element for my upcoming cover (which I am trying to make myself as I did last time) and all I could think of was "Wait, is this AI? Is this one AI?"

I can't really tell with certainty, which makes the whole design issue problematic.

I was also on a reddit and an artist said that within his for-commission art circle there is chatter of artists using AI and passing it off as their work.

So even through hiring an artist and having the conversation, it may not be possible to be certain. I suppose there's always the old fashioned way with one's own paintbrush and camera and photoshop.
 
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lizmonster

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So even through hiring an artist and having the conversation, it may not be possible to be certain. I suppose there's always the old fashioned way with one's own paintbrush and camera and photoshop.

And of course not everybody can do this. I started drawing when the pandemic started, and I'm not half bad. I can do a decent realistic drawing from a photographic reference. I have an OK sense of balance and color and whitespace. I don't totally suck at fonts. And I couldn't, in a million years, produce something I'd want to put on a book cover.

I know the guy who's done my book covers well enough to know he wouldn't pass off AI art on me (without telling me, and asking first). I also worry about him staying in business.
 

MaryLennox

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I was just on Pixabay looking for an element for my upcoming cover (which I am trying to make myself as I did last time) and all I could think of was "Wait, is this AI? Is this one AI?"

I can't really tell with certainty, which makes the whole design issue problematic.

I've run into the same issue on Deposit Photos. Some are obvious. Some are not.
 
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Cobalt Jade

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Woollybear, looking at the two covers in your signature, they could very well be AI art, just because of the artist's style. I know they aren't, because you've had them there for a while, at least a few years. But that is indeed the general "look" of book covers are for today, which the AI art engines are generating. And that generic "look" is not confined to the self-published; it's on the covers of mainstream paperbacks as well.
 

MaryLennox

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Woollybear, looking at the two covers in your signature, they could very well be AI art, just because of the artist's style. I know they aren't, because you've had them there for a while, at least a few years. But that is indeed the general "look" of book covers are for today, which the AI art engines are generating. And that generic "look" is not confined to the self-published; it's on the covers of mainstream paperbacks as well.
I don't think Woolybear's covers look AI, they look standard stock image with some flourishes. A lot of covers look the same because that's just good marketing and a way to find the right readers. That's why all urban fantasy romance covers have a beautiful young woman wearing leather with lights swirling around them. If that's what you like to read, then that's what you purposely look for. Indie authors know this and use similar covers on purpose. But the AI does have a weird thing about making all the women look similar, with the same distant stare of disinterest.
 

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My recollection for the first cover is that I wanted a woman, but not a buxom sexy white thing. I wanted her to evoke a sense of power, but not with a gun or lightning shooting out of her hands or anything like this. (Her power is within her.) And I needed two suns. I was very happy with what the artist came up with. Does it look AI? I'm not too bothered if it does.

I gave him multiple reference images for the woman.

Less happy with cover #2, but I'll hire him for #3 and the anthology of novellas.

What I won't do is hire out work to make covers for the individual novellas (which will go into the anthology.) My first self-made novella cover is here and it's not as professional but it's good enough for me for the purpose of that novella. It's a combination of elements from pixabay, photographs, photoshop tricks, and .... oh, I don't recall, but there are about ten layers there. I should have used the same font and stuff, but that would have cost some money so I didn't.
 
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gtanders

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I don't think Woolybear's covers look AI,

Agreed. Too sophisticated, with too much narrative suggestion! :)

This is old (by the standards of this evolving situation), and maybe others have seen it; but it was a good rundown for me to understand the various legalities concerned. https://www.theverge.com/23444685/generative-ai-copyright-infringement-legal-fair-use-training-data

They make a distinction between the collection of data for a training set (which they say is probably OK), and the repurposing of that data to create works that compete with the artists whose data was scraped for training.

The idea of "AI data laundering" was also instructive.
 

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They make a distinction between the collection of data for a training set (which they say is probably OK), and the repurposing of that data to create works that compete with the artists whose data was scraped for training.
That is an interesting distinction. Thanks for pointing it out!
 

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Canva has joined the party and offers a free AI text generator on their platform. It's available to free Canva accounts.
Oh happy day.

Universities have awakened to this and are starting discussions with their staff. How do we assess students if AI will write all their essays, assignment answers, research reports, and even creative writing endeavors in a way that no plagiarism-checker can detect?
 

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How do we assess students if AI will write all their essays, assignment answers, research reports, and even creative writing endeavors in a way that no plagiarism-checker can detect?
You know the endgame is computers assessing other computers, right? 😛
 

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MaryLennox

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I'm also confused by most of these AI art generators stating that whoever wrote the text to generate the image are allowed to use the image in any way, that it is 'theirs'. This is from Supermachine's AppSumo deal: "These images will not have appeared anywhere else and you have full commercial rights to use them for anything you need!"


I'm not sure if there is fine print anywhere saying 'don't type in licensed images' in the text prompt? Because if I type in Elsa from Frozen, I get this:



Edit: P.S. They even have a section where you can pick your 'art style' which includes living artists and 'Disney Animation Studio', 'Pixar Animation Studio", etc. Pretty sure they didn't pay these big guys to use their names and art styles? I'm not allowed to write and self-publish a book about an ice queen named Elsa with a sister named Anna who go to Hogwarts to become witches and defeat Darth Vader...
 
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MaryLennox

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Canva has joined the party and offers a free AI text generator on their platform. It's available to free Canva accounts.
Also, just tried typing Elsa related prompts into Canva, and it wouldn't let me. It wouldn't even let me type the word 'Elsa'. It also wouldn't let me type 'Moana', but it was fine with 'Lilo and Stich', and "Disney Princess'. ???
 
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PastyAlien

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I'm also confused by most of these AI art generators stating that whoever wrote the text to generate the image are allowed to use the image in any way, that it is 'theirs'. This is from Supermachine's AppSumo deal: "These images will not have appeared anywhere else and you have full commercial rights to use them for anything you need!"

I'm not sure if there is fine print anywhere saying 'don't type in licensed images' in the text prompt? Because if I type in Elsa from Frozen, I get this:

Yeah, I'll bet in the fine print of their ToS they've got a disclaimer stating the end-user will be held legally responsible for any copyright infringements.

I'm thinking AI is gonna work out great for Disney and their ilk, to the detriment of artists--and writers. The fact that people are generating Disney characters keeps them current and in the public eye, so Disney isn't gonna stop them. It's only when people try to commercialize Disney characters that Disney will get litigious. So they're gonna nail anyone who does that to set a precedent.

I can totally see Disney building a proprietary AI so they can load it with decades worth of intellectual property and use it to pump out scripts and animation. They won't need writers or artists anymore.


Edit: P.S. They even have a section where you can pick your 'art style' which includes living artists and 'Disney Animation Studio', 'Pixar Animation Studio", etc. Pretty sure they didn't pay these big guys to use their names and art styles? I'm not allowed to write and self-publish a book about an ice queen named Elsa with a sister named Anna who go to Hogwarts to become witches and defeat Darth Vader...
Yeah, if you self pubbed that book, they'd sue the crap out of you. But as long as people don't commercialize it, I'm thinking Disney and the like are all: have at it. 🤷‍♀️
 

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Yeah, if you self pubbed that book, they'd sue the crap out of you. But as long as people don't commercialize it, I'm thinking Disney and the like are all: have at it. 🤷‍♀️
I think it depends on whether you're infringing copyright or trademark, doesn't it?
 

PastyAlien

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Oh happy day.

Universities have awakened to this and are starting discussions with their staff. How do we assess students if AI will write all their essays, assignment answers, research reports, and even creative writing endeavors in a way that no plagiarism-checker can detect?
Canadian Edward Tian made an app for that: GPTZero.

GPTZero, which can sniff out AI-written text, has been accessed by 80,000 people since its January 3 launch, said Edward Tian, who wrote the app in a Toronto cafe.
 
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PastyAlien

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I think it depends on whether you're infringing copyright or trademark, doesn't it?
Hmmm. Well I suppose if you make Disney porn, then that might hurt Disney's brand and be more of a trademark issue, even if you don't try to commercialize it. So I guess they'd sue you for that too. If they knew about it. But so many people are generating smutty Elsas that I'm not sure how they could sue everyone. Maybe they'll pick an unlucky AI "artist" to sue to set a precedent as a warning not to make Disney smut. :greenie
 

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Yeah, I'll bet in the fine print of their ToS they've got a disclaimer stating the end-user will be held legally responsible for any copyright infringements.
Yes, I'm sure if you looked in the fine print there's going to be something saving themselves. But their claim that everything created is brand new kind of goes out the window. What if you just typed in snow queen and you got an image of Elsa, but you had no clue who Elsa was (because you live under a rock or don't have kids?) and you assumed it was a 'brand new' piece of 'art' and used it on a book cover? So many air quotes...

I don't really expect an answer to this, it just ends up being one of the many reasons to not be using this stuff, especially on book covers.
 

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Also, just tried typing Elsa related prompts into Canva, and it wouldn't let me. It wouldn't even let me type the word 'Elsa'. It also wouldn't let me type 'Moana', but it was fine with 'Lilo and Stich', and "Disney Princess'. ???

WTF? Elsa is the name of my MC in my WIP! After Elsa Lanchester (see my avi).

Canadian Edward Tian made an app for that: GPTZero.

Ed Tian is a student at my alma mater. =grin= I had fun reading about him in our alumni mag. And in that Twitter thread, he showed off GPTZero on an article by John McPhee, my college writing prof.
 

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*didn't read whole thread*

OP question:
With all the talk about AI paintings, I've been wondering if it could be of any use to self-published writers, for book covers. While it doesn't fully replace the need for working on the design, it can produce cool concepts very fast for a cheap price. I think it's at least a step above Canva.

It's certainly interesting; but to be honest, I think creative people should be against AI art on principle (whether you are or aren't is up to you, this is just my opinion).

My reasoning:

1) I wouldn't be happy with AI having access to all my writing, and allowing others to write novels/short stories or whatever using your work as a data set. So, why should I accept this being done to other artists in other domains?

2) I won't be happy in a future where AI is creating art, writing novels, and developing screenplays (and even possibly generating entire films). These are the jobs humans want and which are enriching for us as a species. As manual automation increases and improves, we should be jumping head first into more creative professions, and hobbies, not shedding them off to robots and tech corporations. A society where we are all only consumers is a nightmare for me.