Wacom Launches “Anti-AI” Platform to Help Protect Artists from Copyright and AI

Wacom recently launched the open beta test for their latest digital rights management service: Wacom Yuify. This platform allows creators to protect their artwork by proving authorship of their work. It uses blockchain technology to create a digital record of creators’ artwork and allows them to set up hassle-free licensing and usage rights.

“In a digital and decentralized world, we want to focus on the artist as the source and origin of any artwork. Especially for creatives who are just starting on their professional journey, it is often difficult to protect their rights. With Wacom Yuify they now have a powerful tool to secure their authorship.”

Heidi Wang, senior vice president of Wacom’s Ink Division.

As of now, this service is available to use for free in the US and Europe. Wacom is currently running an open beta test and the service can be used as a plug-in for Photoshop and Rebelle 6, and soon will be available for Celsys Clip Studio Paint.

Creators can sign up for the service from their official website.

How It Works

Wacom Yuify is integrated within your drawing software – Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, or Rebelle. When you create your artwork, you can export it using Yuify in a JPG or PNG format.

Once you export your files using Yuify, the Yuify system will inject an invisible watermark on your artwork – a process called micromarking. This watermark will be used as a tag to identify the artwork as yours.

Yuify plugin test in Photoshop
Yuify plugin test in Photoshop

By exporting your images through Yuify, you will record your artwork in a permanent digital record unique to you. You can check out all the artworks you’ve exported through Yuify by logging into your Yuify account and navigating to the resources folder.

When Yuify watermarks one of your files, people can identify who the artwork belongs to using the “Yuifinder”. Through the Yuifinder, people can ping the artist of the original file for a request to use their artwork.

Finally, once you have your digital record with Yuify, the platform allows you to setup licensing rights for your projects. It’s a hassle-free process and offers flexible licensing options for multiple use cases.

Ethical Implications – Is This Really the Solution to Creators’ Problems?

Wacom has been working on their Yuify platform for a few years now. When the news first reached creatives, many expressed their dissatisfaction.

Using decentralized blockchain technology for protecting digital work has been the topic of debate for many years. People were always skeptical of cryptocurrency and NFTs for the same reason they are skeptical of Wacom’s Yuify.

For many people, the solution seems simple: Don’t allow AI companies to steal original artwork in the first place.

With Yuify, it seems as if Wacom’s heart is in the right place. They wish to protect artists against the illegal use of their work to train AI data or to generate AI images. However, this doesn’t seem like an adequate solution.

The Yuify database can be used to train Machine Learning (ML) modules, leaving artists more vulnerable than before. Also, micromarking artwork doesn’t guarantee that other people can’t replicate the artwork or claim it as their own. Finally, with Adobe’s new controversial terms of service that grants them the royalty-free right to use artists’ projects for their own use, exporting your Photoshop projects with Yuify isn’t enough, as Adobe may still hold the rights to your work despite it being in the Yuify database.

This calls to pushing further regulations for AI and creating more effective copyright laws to protect artists from the negative impact of AI on their work.

Wacom Yuify Won’t Protect Art from Getting Stolen – But It’s a “First Step”

Wacom Yuify presentation
Wacom CEO Nobuta presenting the Wacom Yuify beta at the 2024 VFX festival

Yuify won’t prevent art from getting scraped from the web. Wacom CEO Nobuta clarified that Wacom isn’t “anti-AI” and “Yuify is not a “giant platform guys protection scheme”, but instead a plugin to enable artists to “self authenticate and self-manage their artwork […] “A first step” (source).

The main idea behind Yuify as of now is to prove ownership of artwork and authenticate that a piece of art is in fact produced by a human and not a machine. Think of Yuify, at its current stage at least, as a stamp of authentification rather than a full-fledged solution to the growing AI-copyright problems.

What do you think of Wacom’s Yuify? Do you think it’s a solution to protect artists against copyright and AI?

Leave your thoughts and perspectives in the comments below.

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