The war against the machines has begun: photography site bans AI images

The war against the machines has begun: photography site bans AI images
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

While debate rages as to the merit and validity of machine-generated imagery, a photography website has fired the first shots in the man-machine war by banning images generated using AI services like Midjourney and DALL•E.

PurplePort, a popular portfolio and networking website for models, photographers and imaging creatives, announced a blanket ban on "100% machine-generated images" so that the platform can remain focused on "human-generated and human-focused art".

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In an update titled 'Artmageddon: The rise of the machines, and banning machine-generated images', owner and photographer Russ Freeman made the website's position explicitly clear.

"Due to the rise of machine-generated images, we have decided to ban this type of image. Uploading images generated using services (such as Midjourney / DALL•E / Craiyon / Stable Diffusion / etc), where you type a phrase or description of the desired image and a machine algorithm (often called A.I) creates an image for you, is banned from PurplePort until further notice."

Freeman notes that, given the purpose of uniting creatives in "a safe, honest, and vibrant community to create fantastic images", the creation of completely machine-generated imagery may be empowering in enabling everyone to create art, but lacks a sufficient amount of human input for this photographic community. 

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The issue of honesty is a recurring one in the statement. "I also feel that it is somewhat deceitful to upload art that has been created merely from a prompt phrase and to claim it as human-generated. There are many arguments for and against machine-generated art, but for PurplePort, I wish it to remain an inspiring source of human-generated and human-focused art."

Freeman also, as many have and continue to do, questioned the true artistic integrity of image creation via artificial intelligence, and shared a number of such images to demonstrate his point.

"Finally, it is trivial for anyone to generate art using these art-generating machine algorithms, as I have demonstrated in the images used in this post. It requires no investment in skill or time. Thus, it is equally trivial for such images to crowd out the true artists amongst us and devalue those who have invested their time in their artistic pursuits."

As the issue of machine-generated images continues to grow and create controversy – especially after artists were irate that an AI image won an art contest earlier this month – it will be interesting to see if more photographic bodies take a similar stand against the technology. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.