When Copyright fails you as an Artist, Your Distinct Style can still be Protected.

By Dr Angela Adrian

Artificial Intelligence (AI) encompasses any computer-aided technology that simulates human intelligence, including machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks. Its application is extensive and spans both personal and professional contexts. Recently AI technology has exploded with the release of products such as DALL-E[i], the art tool Stable Diffusion, and MidJourney. These platforms have created much controversy regarding intellectual property, specifically copyright and fair use/dealing. However, another form of intellectual property should be considered – Image Rights.

Previously, Icondia considered the use of AI for deep fakes and filmmaking, where it is clear that a person, and hence their personality and identity, had been altered.[ii] But how far does a personality extend? And how do these alterations using these AI tools affect said personality? Art is an expression of our thoughts, emotions, intuitions, and desires. Still, it is even more personal than that: it is about sharing the manner in which we experience the world, which for many, is an extension of personality.[iii]

Copyright is merely the protection of the expression of an idea. Copyright protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. (US Code Title 17 (1976) and Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). This type of intellectual property protects only the end result.

To overcome this lack of protection, the Bailiwick of Guernsey’s Image Rights Ordinance (IRO) can be used to protect the expression of the self. The registration of a personality immediately captures all present, historical, and future images associated with that personality. In the context of the law, ‘image’ is framed extremely widely and means the name of the person and includes:

 “…the voice, signature, likeness, appearance, silhouette, feature, face, expressions (verbal or facial), gestures, mannerisms, and any other distinctive characteristic or personal attribute of a personage, or…

…any photograph, illustration, image, picture, moving image or electronic or other representation (‘picture’) of a personage and of no other person …” (IRO, s 3(1)(b) and (c)).

“Identity is used to mean ‘the condition of being a specified person’, or ‘the condition of being oneself … and not another’. It clusters with the terms ‘personality,’ ‘individuality,’ ‘individualism,’ and, less fashionably, ‘soul.’ It implies the existence for each person of private space or personal lebensraum, in which one’s attitudes and actions can define oneself … [T]he dictionary definitions miss [this] vital aspect.”[iv]  The Bailiwick of Guernsey did not.

Your Art is an extension of yourself, your personality, not just a handy tangible medium of expression.  Protect your individuality by registering your Image Rights.


[i] It’s fitting that DALL-E’s name is a portmanteau meant to evoke the artist Salvador Dalí and the titular hero of the Pixar film WALL-E. Dalí was a surrealist who trafficked in the intensely personal iconography of dreams. WALL-E is a trash compacting robot who spends his days sifting through the detritus of a failed civilization. DALL-E represents the triumph of the latter mode of artistic production over the former. Who Will Own the Art of the Future?  | WIRED

[ii] Why turning personality into property is good for actors and studios alike – Icondia

[iii] William Joseph Nieters, Lake Ozark, Missouri.  What is Art? and/or What is Beauty? | Issue 108 | Philosophy Now

[iv] Clarke, R.A. (1994) ‘Human identification in information systems: management challenges and public policy issues’, 7 Information Tech. & People, Vol. 4, pp.6–37, http://www.anu .edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/DV/HumanID.html.