Illustrator Hollie Mengert converted into AI model
Occurred: November 2022
Illustrator Hollie Mengert has discovered that her online art portfolio has been used to train Illustration Diffusion, a text-to-image model created by Canada-based Nigerian engineering student Ogbogu Kalu, without her permission.
Per Andy Biao at Waxy, Kalu used 32 of her illustrations to fine-tune Stable Diffusion to recreate Hollie Mengert's style using Google's DreamBooth, a technique for introducing new subjects to a pretrained text-to-image diffusion model. Kalu then released the model on Hugging Face under an open license for anyone to use.
The act triggered a heated debate about the ethics and legality of using artwork developed and owned by other people or organisations without their consent. Dreambooth was also criticised for the ease with which it can be used to generate offensive or malicious images, and that it can be re-purposed given its open source nature.
Mengert pointed out to Andy Baio that she was in no position to grant Kalu permission to train his model on her work even if she wanted to as her work involves characters owned by corporations like Disney or Penguin Random House.
On the other hand, Kalu says he thinks his act is legal and 'likely to be determined fair use in court'. He reckons it is also inevitable. 'The technology is here, like we've seen countless times throughout history,' he argued.
According to Kalu, 'there is no argument based on morality. That's just an arbitrary line drawn on the sand. I don't really care if you think this is right or wrong.'
Ruiz N., Li Y., Jampani V, Pritch Y., Rubinstein M., Aberman K. (2022). DreamBooth: Fine Tuning Text-to-Image Diffusion Models for Subject-Driven Generation
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Published: February 2023