I thought about adding this to the other thread going on about AI art, but I think a separate topic is more appropriate since that one looks to focus general opinions.
Note - This is my interpretation of how this stuff works and I could be wrong on some stuff. Feel free to point it out. I'm not a legal expert or anything.
So basically from what I understand the copyright office ruled AI art cannot be copyrighted because only a human author can hold copyright. That means the work automatically falls under public domain. Now as for our question, if artists are free to use imagery that falls under public domain and are allowed to copyright it if their version of it is altered differently enough from the source, would that not also mean an artist can use AI art someone else generated for their own purposes?
From how I understand it when it comes to AI using art, it tends to be either these two things:
1) If the AI trains itself on data sets of art but does not generate art directly from the dataset...then arguably all its doing is "looking" at the art, studying it then creating its own based on a generalization. That is largely what human artists do. Therefore that would allow it to dodge any legally grey areas because to call
2) If it does generate art directly from the data set as in using pictures, yet alters its image just enough to differentiate it...then it would arguably be an original piece thus is copyrightable.
Either way, you'd end up with an original piece that the AI created using human art. I don't know if its fair, but I don't see it as being illegal either because to do so would mean you'd have to classify a lot of human art as also being illegal because most of what we do is, in some way or another, based off tons of art we see around us whether its a conscious effort on our part or subconscious.
For AI creators, this is a double-edged sword. They can create as much art as they want and legally use artists work as a basis, but the catch is that because they didn't create anything themselves that they don't own whatever the AI created as it falls under public domain. Thus the artists should be able to use the AI-created works as a basis for their own art.
I think this as it stands is more of a win for artists than loss as the AI gives rise to a whole new way of looking at creativity and a new source for idea generation/referencing. AI creators can create artwork from artists work, but there's also nothing stopping us from using AI art to make our own art.