Xiaohongshu Faces Legal Challenges Over AI-Generated Art and Copyright Infringement

Several artists have filed lawsuits against Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu for AI-generated art and copyright infringement. This development comes in the wake of a Beijing Internet Court ruling on a dispute over copyright infringement involving artificially generated images, highlighting the ongoing complexities of AI-generated art and copyright issues in China.

The artist "Zhengban Qingtuanzi" has filed a lawsuit against Xiaohongshu for copyright infringement at the Beijing Internet Court. Concurrently, similar cases involving three other artists against Xiaohongshu and its AI painting product, Trik, have also been filed. These four cases are reportedly the first batch of lawsuits concerning infringement of AIGC (AI-Generated Content) training datasets.

As early as August this year, the artist "Shi Xueyu Ah" pointed out on social media that their original artwork was used without permission by Xiaohongshu’s AI painting product, Trik, for content generation. Subsequently, three other artists also publicly raised similar issues.

The artist’s original artwork bears a striking resemblance to Xiaohongshu’s AI-generated art.

Trik AI is officially described as an "AI image creation tool," and most of the works previously published on its official Xiaohongshu account were labeled as "Xiaohongshu AI." However, this account is currently unsearchable on Xiaohongshu after the controversy surfaced.

Xiaohongshu has been preparing an independent generative AI team since March, with core staff coming from the NLP technology team of the advertising business, and multiple independent departments internally advancing the exploration and implementation of AIGC (AI-Generated Content).

In April, Xiaohongshu launched Trik AI, an AI painting application focused on Chinese-style art. Soon after, several artists have noted that their original images were used by Trik AI for image training and processing, and attached comparison photos of the related works.

With the widespread application of generative AI technology, many products in China have now launched AI-generated image functions. The acquisition of training data could lead to potential copyright and intellectual property issues, requiring companies to pay attention to how they acquire datasets.

Some companies, like Baidu for example, said they provide a complaint feedback channel to offer rights relief for relevant rights holders if the generated images on the platform infringe upon the rights of the original authors.

Some other companies rely on human to feed AI to avoid infringement risks, with humans reviewing and filtering the data source.

The current regulation in AI-generated art in China is not very clear. Many companies use whatever they can find online without considering whether it infringes on rights. The court judgement in these cases could offer better clarity for companies regarding copy rights in AI-generated content.

Other Chinese tech companies have faced similar controversies, including Bilibili and NetEase.

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