How to Protect Your Art Against AI

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In the age of AI, the use of images to train machine learning systems has become increasingly prevalent. However, many individuals are unaware that their photos are being used in this manner. The process of using images to train an algorithm raises questions about the nature of this use and its implications for copyright law and fair use.

Viral image-generating AI tools such as DALL-E and Stable Diffusion are powered by massive datasets of images that are often scraped from various sources, leading to concerns about the unauthorized use of individuals’ images. Unfortunately, the average person typically does not have access to these datasets and may not be aware of whether their images have been used for AI training. To address this issue, there are several steps that individuals can take to protect their images from being used in AI training without their consent.

Watermarking Images

When watermarking your images, it’s essential to strike a balance between visibility and subtlety. The watermark should be prominent enough to deter unauthorized use but not overly intrusive to the point of detracting from the visual content. Additionally, consider embedding metadata within the images, such as copyright information and contact details, to provide a layer of protection that remains even if the visible watermark is removed.

Blocking AI Crawlers

The process of blocking AI crawlers involves modifying the robots.txt file on your website to disallow indexing of specific directories or image files. It’s important to understand the implications of these changes, as they can affect not only AI crawlers but also regular search engine crawlers. Careful consideration should be given to which parts of your site are made off-limits to ensure that legitimate use is not inadvertently hindered.

Utilizing Anti-AI Tools

Anti-AI tools, such as those that introduce subtle perturbations to images, are still in the early stages of development. It’s crucial to stay informed about the effectiveness of these tools and their compatibility with different types of images. As the field of adversarial attacks and defences in AI continues to evolve, new methods for protecting images from unauthorized use in training data may emerge.

Metadata and Legislation

In addition to saving the prompt used to generate each image in the image file’s metadata or filename, consider registering your images with relevant copyright authorities. This can provide legal recourse in the event of unauthorized use. Stay informed about the evolving landscape of AI legislation, as new regulations may impact the use of images in machine learning training and the protections available to content creators.


Developed by researchers at MIT, is PhotoGuard. This prototype applies an invisible “immunization” to images, making it difficult for AI models to manipulate or use the pictures for training purposes. The immunization works by subtly adjusting the image’s pixels in a way that is imperceptible to the human eye but effectively prevents realistic manipulation by AI models. While these tools offer a promising means of defence, it’s important to recognize that they are not infallible on their own. Additionally, the adoption of such tools by tech companies and AI platforms is crucial to ensuring widespread protection for users’ images. Despite the existence of these protective measures, individuals should remain vigilant and informed about the evolving landscape of AI technology and its implications for image protection.

By implementing these proactive measures, individuals can assert more control over the use of their images in the context of AI training and help safeguard their intellectual property rights. The widespread use of images in AI training underscores the importance of raising awareness about this issue and empowering individuals to protect their visual content in the digital landscape.

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