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China’s Largest Fanart Platform LOFTER Faces Creator Backlash Over Launch of AI Drawing Tool

By Weilin Li
Mar. 20, 2023 updated 03:45

LOFTER, a prominent Chinese fanart platform supported by NetEase, has introduced an AI drawing feature called the "Old Pigeon Drawing Machine." The tool enables users to generate a profile avatar in mere seconds by entering relevant keywords. However, this development has sparked concerns among creators who feel that it goes against the platform's original aim of promoting original art. They feel betrayed by the platform and believe that it has left them vulnerable and unprotected.

The primary concern of the creators was whether their original artwork had been used as training data to feed the AI, which violates their copyrights and artistic originality.

Screenshot of LOFTER's new AI drawing featureScreenshot of LOFTER's new AI drawing feature

Fans and creators have expressed their dissatisfaction with the "Old Pigeon" and "AI Drawing" hashtags through posts and comments, garnering significant attention. They have launched an online campaign that is similar to the "No To AI Generated Images" movement that occurred on ArtStation in December of last year.

Fans on LOFTER have initiated an online campaign similar to the “No To AI Generated Images” movement on ArtStation.Fans on LOFTER have initiated an online campaign similar to the “No To AI Generated Images” movement on ArtStation.

The boycott had a significant impact as fans flooded LOFTER's pages with an image in protest.

LOFTER was initially launched by NetEase in 2012 as a microblogging platform. Over the years, it evolved into a community for fanart and fanfic. Fans can find a diverse range of content in various genres, including fanart, fanfic, film, and animation, among others. It has become a hub for leading Chinese artists to showcase their exceptional content.

However, shortly after this incident, many creators expressed their desire to leave LOFTER. Some creators have publicly announced that they will "delete their accounts and abandon the platform." Some illustrators have even stated that they would rather keep their artwork stored in folders than upload them to LOFTER.

In reaction to these complaints and the significant wave of dissatisfaction, the platform issued two statements on March 6th and March 7th to clarify the function's purpose and outline steps to address the issue.

A screenshot of LOFTER’s announcement on March 6thA screenshot of LOFTER’s announcement on March 6th

In its March 6th statement, LOFTER clarified that the "Old Pigeon Drawing Machine Beta" was actually a profile photo generator designed to assist users who lack artistic skills in creating profile pictures. The function was developed using open-source materials and did not use illustrations from the creators on LOFTER. It was also stated that commercial use was prohibited.

LOFTER stated on March 7th that the avatar generator function was developed to meet the demands of users who frequently change their avatars. This trend is prevalent among young people, with 64.5% of all users changing their avatars every three weeks.

The statement further said that in case users discover that the generator has replicated their work, the platform will offer compensation of 10,000 CNY (~1,440 USD) to the original creator for each instance of replication.

LOFTER also announced that they would introduce measures to prevent AI-generated content from being passed off as "original content," as well as add feedback channels, anti-crawling functions, and differentiation functions to better manage AI-generated content.

Currently, the platform has removed the AI drawing function.

However, as AI technology continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, it is likely that its impact on the art world will only become more pronounced.