New tool protects your photos by poisoning AI generators from the inside out

Oct 25, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

New tool protects your photos by poisoning AI generators from the inside out

Oct 25, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Protect your photos from data scraping by poisoning AI generators from the inside

Scientists have developed a way for photographers and artists to fight back against AI harvesting their work without permission. The tool, dubbed Nightshade, works by effectively poisoning the image’s pixels. In bulk, this can leave the AI model completely useless.

University of Chicago professor Ben Zhao told MIT Technology Review that Nightshade would poison any model that uses images to train AI. This poisoned data can then damage any future images created by the AI generator, causing it to “break in chaotic and unpredictable ways.

General confusion

The team introduced poisoned data samples into Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion XL (SDXL). This caused the model to interpret “car” as “cow” and “dog” as “cat.” Even art styles became distorted, with a “cartoon” prompt yielding results reminiscent of 19th-century impressionist art.

Protect your photos from data scraping by poisoning AI generators from the inside
Image courtesy of the researchers

Artists’ styles protected

Nightshade also helps protect individual artists’ styles. For example, when asked to generate art in the style of a particular well-known artist, the poisoned model produces images less similar.

To have a significant impact, hundreds or even thousands of poisoned images are needed, depending on the AI model’s size. This tool could encourage AI developers to think twice before using scraped training data from the internet.

Stability AI, one of the companies facing backlash from artists, emphasized its commitment to equitable representation and bias reduction. However, Nightshade poses a significant threat to companies using artists’ work without consent.

Part of the Glaze tool

Nightshade is set to be integrated into the Glaze tool, which allows artists to mask their styles to prevent AI scraping. Furthermore, Nightshade will be open-source, allowing other developers to create similar protective tools.

While some methods exist to protect images from direct manipulation by AI, Nightshade stands out as a powerful weapon against unauthorized use. Tools like Nightshade could become essential safeguards against AI data scraping.

Until now, the only recourse for individual artists against these AI behemoths has been class action lawsuits. Even giants such as Getty have not been particularly successful so far at suing.

This tool could be a game-changer for artists in their ongoing battle to protect their work from unauthorized AI usage. It could be a vital addition to the artist’s arsenal against image theft by AI companies.

[Via Gizmodo]

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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61 responses to “New tool protects your photos by poisoning AI generators from the inside out”

  1. Holger Quast Avatar
    Holger Quast

    Idiotic. Embrace progress, don’t obstruct it.

    1. Andrew Chester Ong Avatar
      Andrew Chester Ong

      Holger QuastI object to having my work copied

    2. Holger Quast Avatar
      Holger Quast

      Andrew Chester Ong , the AI isn’t copying your work. It learns from your images, like a human viewer would be inspired by it when seeing the images you have online.

    3. Jan Wiedemeijer Avatar
      Jan Wiedemeijer

      Holger Quast Not like a human, pattern regio, not impression/expression. And what is the problem with artists protecting their work? It’s a personal, free choice.

    4. Holger Quast Avatar
      Holger Quast

      Jan Wiedemeijer Protecting from what?
      If a photographer wants to hang a sign on his/her pictures “AIs do not look!”, then it’s a personal choice. This here is a feeble attempt to ruin the image AI also for others.

    5. Jan Wiedemeijer Avatar
      Jan Wiedemeijer

      Holger Quast I don’t agree that pattern recog is the same as “being influenced by”

    6. Holger Quast Avatar
      Holger Quast

      Jan Wiedemeijer why? it’s learning by examples and generalizing from it.

    7. Andrew Chester Ong Avatar
      Andrew Chester Ong

      Holger Quast might as well don’t be a photographer and just be a drone. and let AI take over eh?

    8. Holger Quast Avatar
      Holger Quast

      If that’s what you want to do Andrew Chester Ong be my guest. That is a personal choice. I see photographer colleagues who say they won’t touch AI. I see others who rarely pick up a camera anymore as they can create the images they want much faster and better with text to image AIs. I happily use AI to generate backgrounds for portraits I have taken in the studio. Fantastic tool.

    9. Jan Wiedemeijer Avatar
      Jan Wiedemeijer

      Holger Quast no it’s not learning. Learning means understanding. It’s just fancy copy paste.

    10. Holger Quast Avatar
      Holger Quast

      Jan Wiedemeijer heck no. Please take some time and look up transformer neural networks on Wikipedia.

    11. Jan Wiedemeijer Avatar
      Jan Wiedemeijer

      Holger Quast I did read a lot about. I just don’t agree.

  2. Sarah B Thompson Art Avatar
    Sarah B Thompson Art

    This is progress I can get behind!

  3. Martin Gillette Avatar
    Martin Gillette

    This seems to be a good first start to protect artists. I’m guessing the AI people will find a way for the AI generator to ignore the poisoning tool. That might be easy since the poisoning tool is open source. For styles, there could be rules that forbid the naming living artists or only be allowed to name artists if they have been dead for more than 50 years. So you couldn’t prompt, “in the stye of David Hockney”.

  4. Keith S Avatar
    Keith S

    Seems like a wasted effort. Who is trying to copy a style from someone that is unknown to the world. Then there is the fact that just avoiding using media from now to whenever this ridiculousness ends means it wouldn’t accomplish much.

  5. jsm Avatar
    jsm

    Really, really bad choice of words.

  6. Craig Blackmoore Avatar
    Craig Blackmoore

    Won’t work. You can likely bypass it with a screenshot or by self-interrogating your training data.

  7. Lisa Avatar
    Lisa

    What nonsense. AI does not make collages. And styles can not be copyrighted. Otherwise there would be only one artist producing pointilism, for example. In the same way the humn eye looks at art, so does the AI. Ignorance is so tiresome.

  8. Hans Watson Avatar
    Hans Watson

    Protecting your own images is one thing but trying to keep ai from knowing how to do generic styles such as cartoon or impressionistic is a step too far.

    Also, what about people that see your photographs then go take ones that are similar because they learned from looking at your work? Going to go poke their eyes out?

    1. Sarah B Thompson Art Avatar
      Sarah B Thompson Art

      Hans Watson You can’t just see a photographer’s work and duplicate the outcome. You have to develop a skill set first- understanding aperture, iso, white balance, lighting styles, depth of field. The only way to fully understand is by doing the work. Doing the work includes seeking inspiration and researching the work of others. AI is an exercise in creative writing via plagiarism and intellectual property theft where the person behind the keyboard is too lazy to do the work themselves.

    2. Hans Watson Avatar
      Hans Watson

      Sarah B Thompson Art the ai does all the things you mentioned. Learning what aperture, white balance etc is in relationship to an image. The prompt writer is the same as the art director or marketing person we deal with who already is clueless about those things and just sends us a description of what they want accompanied by a mood board or something similar.

      Bottom line is that ai is here to stay. As photographers we have to figure a way to live with it and use it to benefit our business.

    3. Sarah B Thompson Art Avatar
      Sarah B Thompson Art

      Hans Watson I agree- AI does all the things and the person using AI is like a clueless manager who lacks knowledge or skills.

    4. Kylie Bru Avatar
      Kylie Bru

      Hans Watson I sell courses of how I take and develop my digital RAWs to make them look like they do. To me the AI is basically doing piracy without the excuse of being poor.

    5. Hans Watson Avatar
      Hans Watson

      So if I can look at your images and make something that looks similar without taking your course that is basically piracy?

    6. Tony Dae Avatar
      Tony Dae

      Ai companies aren’t entitled to use your work.

    7. Katharine Gleason Champagne Avatar
      Katharine Gleason Champagne

      Until AI is guaranteed copyright infringement free, this is the best path to take.

    8. Hans Watson Avatar
      Hans Watson

      Katharine Gleason Champagne the best path is to find an image generated by ai that violates your copyright and take the company to court and set precedent.

    9. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Tony Dae if you post something on the internet anyone can take it and do what they want with it, no different then what AI does.

    10. Katharine Gleason Champagne Avatar
      Katharine Gleason Champagne

      Josh Mitchell yeah it’s weird how that’s often rude & unappreciated too

    11. Mike Beaugeard Avatar
      Mike Beaugeard

      Josh Mitchell The fact that something ‘can be done’ doesn’t make it right. Cloned babies, anyone?

    12. Tony Dae Avatar
      Tony Dae

      Josh Mitchell no, that’s not true actually. Ai companies cannot demand that you make your work usable for them and they cannot demand that you not “poison” your art just like some other person can’t demand you unwatermark a photo and make it open source so they can use it in an advertisement. Your don’t understand copyright law at all.

    13. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell not true. That’s a huge generalisation to back up a weak argument.

    14. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough no, the internet is a public forum as there is no expectation of privacy of what you post, the only time it would be illegal is if you violate copyright law and using others art as inspiration for your art is not violating copyright law.

    15. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Mike Beaugeard not even the same as “cloned babies” it’s no different then if you were to make a copy of another’s art, or used their art for inspiration in your art.

    16. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell we aren’t talking about expectation of privacy though. Are we.

    17. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough yes we are, if someone can see and then use art not of their own that is on the internet then no law is broken, now if they were to hack into said artist computer and then take said art then you would have a case, but that is not what’s happening here, AI is being trained on publicly available art that anyone has access to in order for said AI to produce art by way of text prompts typed by a user, nothing here is illegal.

    18. Hans Watson Avatar
      Hans Watson

      Tony Dae if you have images displayed publicly on the internet where humans can see them and try to figure out how you created them then ai can do the same thing.

    19. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell you are totally confused over privacy law, international copyright law, and how AI works and is trained. What’s worse is you are arguing with people who deal with copyright law day in and day out with their occupation 🙂

    20. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough I wasn’t talking about international copyright laws, I’m talking about USA copyright laws as well as what’s public and what private, the only time international law would apply would be if I was in or operating in another country.

    21. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell like I said. You are totally confused and that last statement just underlines that fact. 😂

    22. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough how am I confused, please explain.

    23. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell “Tony Dae if you post something on the internet anyone can take it and do what they want with it, no different then what AI does.”

      This is fundamentally wrong. The copyright of anything you post on the internet remains with the artist. This is why Google has options for Creative Commons licences etc. You can’t just take stuff and use it as you wish. The only time that you can do this under American law is when something is considered fair use for educational purposes for example. Or under UK copyright law, when a piece of art becomes part of the public domain. There are multiple legal cases which were won by the artist after someone decided to just use their work because it was on the internet.

      Privacy laws which you also mentioned are to do with a PERSON’S right to privacy. Nothing to do with copyright in this discussion. We could get into GDPR, UK law, American law on privacy but it’s not relevant here.

      Thirdly, you talk about American copyright laws and that international copyright laws only apply if you are in a different country? So someone in America can use my images (I’m in the uk) and I can’t do anything about it? Is this what you’re saying? Well, actually I can do something about it and have done in the past.

      Finally, AI scrapes images from the internet. It has to have a library to work from. Many of those images are the copyright of different artists. Without the scraping, AI can’t work effectively. So AI companies are breaching copyright. It’s why companies such as Getty are currently suing AI companies for breach of copyright where they can prove it.

      And for the record. I’ve been a pro photographer for 35 years, my brother is a lawyer, and I have taken successful legal action against media outlets and public figures who breached my copyright because my photos were on the internet.

    24. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough 1 yes I can take your image and do what I please so long as it does not violate any laws , example being I can’t take your image and use it to sell/indorse something but I can take it and post it, share it, and alter it as I see fit, this is also under fair use.

      2 it’s not illegal for AI to take an image and learn from the image, by your logic it would be illegal for me to take an image that someone else have made and learn from it, also by your logic it would be illegal for me to save the images that are copy right protected to my desktop, now it does become legal if I were to make exact copies of the images and sell them.

    25. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell 1. No you can’t. We had a case where a prominent American celebrity used this “fair use” argument as her defence for using my photo of her. Even Instagram disagreed with her and suspended her account. She simply had no right to share my image.

      2. Take something like Pinterest. I successfully got several images removed that were posted to that platform. If we take your understanding of the law, I wouldn’t be allowed to do this even though they are my own work because someone isn’t making money from them.

      Anyway, I’m done here.

    26. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Tony Dae unfortunately, he thinks he does. 🙄

    27. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough well, those were private entities and they have their own rules known as TOA’s, and can you name that case so I can get some some context as just sharing a photo of someone is not illegal, and the use of the photo of her, did she sign a contract, I need context.

    28. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough and again if we go by your logic filming/photography in public spaces would be illegal because according to you that photographer would need permission from people in the public spaces.

    29. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell you need context? You are some random bloke on Facebook 😂😂

    30. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell I don’t understand how you made this assumption 😂😂😂 I’m a street photographer. I shoot in public places for a living. 😂😂😂

    31. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough I just posted a pic of you, because it’s your profile picture, and it’s open for anyone to do what they will with it.

    32. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Tony Dae yes I need context for that case, for instance if she signed a contract with you said she could use that photo then ya I can see why she lost.

    33. Kylie Bru Avatar
      Kylie Bru

      Hans Watson if your gonna go rob my idea, thats fine – earn it by going out in the field, you might get inspired to take something better than mine at a better angle or some other variation. data mining and pixel grabbing is a bit different

    34. Hans Watson Avatar
      Hans Watson

      Kylie Bru it isn’t about robbery. For example, how many people have seen the work of Ansel Adam’s and decided to try to create images that have that same feel? The same could be said of any number of great photographers. Have we all been robbing Ansel Adam’s or Annie Leibovitz?

    35. Kylie Bru Avatar
      Kylie Bru

      Hans Watson my above comment explained why thats rather different. a location and style generally isnt my property, but the photo I took is.

    36. Hans Watson Avatar
      Hans Watson

      Kylie Bru ai isn’t taking your photo it is looking at it and learning from it just the way we look each other’s photos.

      Ai isn’t copying and pasting parts of images it is creating new images from what it has learned.

    37. Jeff Ascough Avatar
      Jeff Ascough

      Josh Mitchell ok. So you’ve reposted my Facebook profile photo within Facebook which comes under facebook’s user agreement which allows this. 🙄

    38. Josh Mitchell Avatar
      Josh Mitchell

      Jeff Ascough my point is, that it’s not illegal, TOS’s is not the law, it’s a contract you agree too, but according to what you said what I did was illegal.

  9. Jake State Farm Avatar
    Jake State Farm

    AI writes itself. I’m sure it will find ways to avoid eventually

  10. Myat Thu Aung Naing Avatar
    Myat Thu Aung Naing

    Nolan Zaw

  11. Klaus Adamhuber Avatar
    Klaus Adamhuber

    🤦