Aritifical intelligence image generators such as DALL-E 2 and NightCafe have become synonymous with questions of copyright, and a growing fear that this generated art could replace the work of humans.

These fears were realised for some at the Colorado State Fair two weeks ago when a piece entered into the "digital arts/digitally-manipulated photography" category was given first place. The piece was titled, "Théâtre D'opéra Spatial", submitted by Jason M. Allen, and was made using the AI image generator Midjourney. The two judges of the digital category stand by their decision, as the category allowed the use of "artistic practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process", and Midjourney was a large part of that process.

The question of copyright ownership for AI generated images is becoming even more relevant now that there are award winning pieces being made. In the UK, such pieces of work are protected for a period of 50 years and the copyright belongs to the author of the work, which is "the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken" (s9(3) CDPA). No such provision exists in the US, which requires that the work must be created by a human being to gain copyright protection.

With this inundation of increasingly high quality AI generated images, how will aspiring sculptors and established painters be affected? Will their art be seen as obsolete, or even more valuable due to the authenticity and labour required?

Mr. Allen's work, "Théâtre D'opéra Spatial," took home the blue ribbon in the fair's contest for emerging digital artists - making it one of the first A.I.-generated pieces to win such a prize, and setting off a fierce backlash from artists who accused him of, essentially, cheating.

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