AI or Artificial Intelligence softwares have been the subject of discussion and debates lately on online spaces. They are capable of creating illustrations, producing real-life photos, make identical voiceovers, and many more. Their purpose is to make things easier and convenient, but is that always the case?
AI has been receiving a lot of backlash, especially from actual artists and illustrators themselves. This is because they felt that AI is taking and imitating their work without consent. It feels like it is robbing them off of their hard work. This includes Japanese illustrators themselves..
According to NHK World-Japan News, a group of 30 Japanese artists call for legislators to pass on laws that will protect their copyrighted work from AI softwares during a news conference.
One of the illustrators, Momuke Momoji, stated that there are not much laws or legislations yet in protecting their work from AI.
He further shared that it is unforgivable that AI is copying his work and producing quantities of it without his permission. As such, AI developers and users should ask permission from the original artist first and pay fees. The AI-generated images from the original work should also be clearly labelled so that it will distinguish itself. He implored the Japanese government to do something about this.
AI Art in Japan
AI art has garnered attention in Japan last August 2022 due to an AI developer company, RADIUS5. They just released the beta version of AI-powered generating service, “MIMIC”, at the time. Artists will have to upload their illustrations on the service, and AI will generate a copy of it with a similar style.
This was met with mixed reactions and controversy, hence RADIUS5 temporarily suspended the service immediately after its release. The main concern was raised: what if someone online takes an illustration from the original creator without permission, and used the MIMIC service? It will rip off the original creator’s illustration without them knowing. In short, there is an issue of copyright.
RADIUS5 have terms and conditions that the illustrations uploaded on its site should be from the original creators. Moreover, MIMIC users should gain the permission from the original creators to upload the illustrations. However, critics mentioned that the misuse of the service app cannot be avoided. How can RADIUS5 determine if the illustration uploaded does not have copyright infringement?
Japan does acknowledge the rise of AI, as they are planning on regulating its usage in 2023.
AI Manga in Japan
Aside from this, the first AI manga has been created recently in March 2023. It is Cyberpunk: Peach John, by Rootport. Rootport wrote the story, but the drawings on his manga are completely AI-generated. He has never drawn a manga by hand.
Rootport elaborated that he only used text descriptions in generating the AI drawings, that went through a series of trial and error. His manga was completed in the span of 6 months, whereas a hand-drawn manga takes a year.
Even so, AI art is far from perfect, as Rootport stated that generating the characters’ hands are tricky. At the same time, it takes a lot of effort to produce the scene exactly as he imagines it.
This was met with debates whether or not the manga is considered impressive due to its AI-generated illustration. Is it considered a genuine creation by a manga creator? Is it really art? Can a manga creator be considered a true manga creator with the use of AI? Is it an insult to many manga creators in Japan who drew their manga by hand?
Rootport has a positive view on AI. He says that AI assists manga artists, similar to how a music producer would use technology to create sounds. He also said that AI will free manga creators of the stressful processes of drawing a manga. It will be less laborious, and manga creators will have more time in refining their stories. It does not necessarily mean it will rob the creators of their work.
What do you think of AI art? Do you have a positive outlook on it? Would you like to try reading an AI manga?