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Can You Use AI-Generated Art in Your Digital Marketing and Content Efforts?



Can You Use AI-Generated Art in Your Digital Marketing and Content Efforts?

By now, you’ve likely tried out one of the new AI-based image generation tools, which ‘sample’ a range of image repository websites and online references to create all new visuals based on text prompts.

DALL·E is the most well-known of these new apps, while Midjourney has also become popular in recent months, enabling users to create some startling visual artworks, with virtually no effort at all.

But what are your usage rights to the visuals you create – and for marketers, can you actually use these images in your content, without potential copyright concerns?

Right now, it seems that you can – though there are some provisos to consider.

According to terms of use for DALL·E, users do have the rights to use their creations for any purpose, including commercial usage:

Subject to your compliance with these terms and our Content Policy, you may use Generations for any legal purpose, including for commercial use. This means you may sell your rights to the Generations you create, incorporate them into works such as books, websites, and presentations, and otherwise commercialize them.

Yes, you can even sell the visuals you create, though most stock photo platforms are now re-assessing whether they’ll actually accept such for sale.

This week, Getty Images became the latest platform to ban the upload and sale of illustrations generated through AI art tools, which, according to Getty, is due to:

“…concerns with respect to the copyright of outputs from these models and unaddressed rights issues with respect to the imagery, the image metadata and those individuals contained within the imagery.”

Part of the concern here is that the visuals that are used as the source material for these AI generated depictions may not be licensed for commercial use.

Though even that’s not necessarily a definitive legal barrier.

As explained by The Verge:

“Software like Stable Diffusion [another AI art tool] is trained on copyrighted images scraped from the web, including personal art blogs, news sites, and stock photo sites like Getty Images. The act of scraping is legal in the US, and it seems the output of the software is covered by “fair use” doctrine. But fair use provides weaker protection to commercial activity like selling pictures, and some artists whose work has been scraped and imitated by companies making AI image generators have called for new laws to regulate this domain.

Indeed, various proposals have been put forward to potentially regulate and even restrict the use of these tools to protect artists, many of whom could well be out of the job as a result. But any such rules are not in place as yet, and it could take years before a legal consensus is established as to how to better protect artists whose work is sourced in the back-end.

There are even questions over the technical process of creation, and how that applies to legal protection in this sense. Back in February, the US Copyright Office effectively implied that AI-generated images can’t be copyrighted at all as an element of ‘human authorship’ is required.

In terms of specific content policies, DALL·E’s usage terms state that people cannot use the app to ‘create, upload, or share images that are not G-rated or that could cause harm’.

So no depictions of violence or hate symbols, while the DALL·E team also encourages users to proactively disclose AI involvement in their content.

DALL·E’s additional guidelines are:

  • Do not upload images of people without their consent.
  • Do not upload images to which you do not hold appropriate usage rights.
  • Do not create images of public figures.

This is where further complications could come in. As noted by JumpStory, users of AI image generation tools should be wary of potential copyright concerns when looking to create images that include real people, as they may end up pulling in pictures of people’s actual faces.

JumpStory notes that many of the source images for the DALL·E project actually come from Flickr, and are subject to Flickr’s terms of use. For most generated depictions, like landscapes and artworks, etc., that’s not a problem, but it is possible that one of these tools could end up using a person’s real face, while re-creations of public figures could also be subject to defamation and misrepresentation, dependent on context.

Again, the legal specifics here are complex, and really, there’s no true precedent to go on, so how such a case might actually be prosecuted is unclear. But if you are looking to generate images of people, there may be complications, if that visual ends up directly resembling an actual person.

Clearly stating that the image is AI-generated will, in most cases, provide some level of clarity. But as a precautionary measure, avoiding clear depictions of people’s faces in your created images could be a safer bet.

MidJourney’s terms also make it clear violations of intellectual property are not acceptable:

“If you knowingly infringe someone else’s intellectual property, and that costs us money, we’re going to come find you and collect that money from you. We might also do other stuff, like try to get a court to make you pay our attorney’s fees. Don’t do it.”

Oddly tough talk for legal documentation, but the impetus is clear – while you can use these tools to create art, creating clearly derivative or IP infringing images could be problematic. User discretion, in this sense, is advised.

But really, that’s where things stand, from a legal perspective – while these systems take elements from other visuals online, the actual image that you’ve created has never existed till you created it, and is therefore not subject to copyright because your prompt is, in effect, the original source.

At some stage, the legal technicalities around such may change – and I do suspect, at some time, somebody will hold an AI art show or similar, or sell a collection of AI-generated art online which depicts significant elements of other artists’ work, and that will spark a new legal debate over what constitutes intellectual property violation in this respect.

But right now, full use of the images created in these tools is largely fine, as per the terms stated in the documentation of the tools themselves.

Note: This is not legal advice, and it’s worth checking with your own legal team to clarify your company’s stance on such before going ahead.

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Pinterest Now up to 450 Million Active Users, Posts Solid Numbers in Latest Performance Report



Pinterest Now up to 450 Million Active Users, Posts Solid Numbers in Latest Performance Report

Pinterest has posted its Q4 and full-year earnings for 2022, showing steady increases in both users and revenue, as it continues to build out its various offerings.

First off, on users, Pinterest added five million more active users – most of them coming from Europe – within the final measurement period of last year.

That’s a good sign for Pinterest, which actually lost users in early 2021, after the COVID-induced boom in eCommerce activity of the previous year, which saw the platform post record high usage numbers.

Many analysts and businesses seemed convinced that the COVID boost to online shopping would hold, even after the pandemic ended. That lead to companies like Meta, Google, Amazon and Twitter investing big into commerce solutions – but many of the staff they put on were eventually culled in the most recent round of lay-offs, because once physical stores re-opened, people actually did go back to shopping as normal, as opposed to continuing to rely on online options.

Pinterest felt that the most, but now, it’s steadily building back up again, as it continues to refine its solutions around evolving shopping behaviors. Which includes video content.

Pinterest’s big winner on this front has been Idea Pins, its Stories-like option which presents uploaded video in a swipeable, full-screen display.

Pinterest Ideas Festival updates

The emphasis on this format has helped boost the platform’s appeal with younger audiences, with Pinterest reporting that Gen Z was the fastest-growing demographic on the platform, increasing double digits year over year.

“Gen Z sessions grew much faster year over year than sessions from older demographics, while nearly half of all new videos pinned in Q4 were from Gen Z users.”

Pinterest also says that sessions continued to grow faster than MAUs, an indicator that it’s driving better engagement overall, while it also increased its overall video supply by 30%, another marker of the popularity of Idea Pins.

Because you can’t post video as a native pin anymore, only in Idea Pins (or paid ads), underlining the focus on the format, and Pinterest’s evolving usage.  

On the revenue front, Pinterest posted a 4% year-over-year increase, after bringing in $877 million Q4.

Pinterest Q4 2022

As you can see in this chart, Pinterest’s revenue is climbing steadily, though its revenue splits remain concerning:

Pinterest Q4 2022

Or maybe you see this as an opportunity, with Pinterest still able to potentially eek out a lot more revenue from regions outside of the North American market. Definitely, it’s got some work to do in that ‘Rest of World’ bracket.

But Pinterest is still developing, and is still expanding its ad and business offerings into new regions. So there is, indeed, potential there – yet the size of the gap here is a concern.

Still, there is growth, slowly but surely, and maybe, if you’re a believer, you can see more ways for Pinterest to generate much bigger revenues moving forward.

Pinterest remains focused on shopping, and highlighting relevant products to users, with its ever-evolving recommendation engine providing better content matches to more users every day. It’s also investing in live-stream shopping, a trend that all platforms hope will catch on in western markets, while it’s developing more presentation tools for Idea Pins to capitalize on that engagement.

In combination, these approaches are working – but at the same time, usage growth in your local market may have stalled, going on these charts.

And of course, while overall growth is interesting, what marketers want to know is whether their customers are there.

For this, you can use Pinterest Trends, which enables you to search for the most popular Pin trends by region.

Pinterest Trends

Tap into these with Idea Pins and you’ll likely be on the right path, based on these latest insights from the app.

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These Guys Are Stupid, And I'm Being Charitable



These Guys Are Stupid, And I'm Being Charitable

Why do some organizations still solicit funds the way they did in the 1960s? You need to take a smarter marketing approach, or you’ll waste money like they do. I’m still getting about two bucks a month in cash from stupid, misguided charities that insist on sending me actual money in the mail. I get …

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Internal Documents Reveal That the New Twitter Blue Has Fewer Than 300k Subscribers at Present



Internal Documents Reveal That the New Twitter Blue Has Fewer Than 300k Subscribers at Present

Look, I know people have strong opinions about Elon Musk, and I realize that any criticism is going to be viewed as political commentary, even if it’s not (because I’m not American, I can’t vote, I don’t care about Hunter Biden, etc.). But Elon’s paid verification program is dumb, the dumbest move that he’s made at Twitter to date.

And I understand the logic – Elon says that when he came on, the company was losing $4 million per day, which lead to mass lay-offs, and a scramble for revenue generation options.

Paid verification, then, makes sense, while Elon also extrapolated the need for immediate cash into a pathway to combat bots, by using verification as a means to ‘verify all the real humans’ – i.e. bots won’t pay, and bot peddlers won’t be able to afford such at scale.

I get all the moving parts, and optimistically, they may sense.

But realistically, which is the more important ‘ally’ of the two, it just doesn’t.

Because most people won’t pay, especially when you’re offering nothing much in return, other than a graphic of a tick next to their username, while the very act of selling verification ticks erases their only perceptual value, that being exclusivity.

Now, everyone can buy one, so the tick is meaningless, at least as a status marker of some form.

My perspective on this been vindicated, at this early stage at least, by a new report from The Information, which says that, according to internal documents:

Around 180,000 people in the US were paying for subscriptions to Twitter, including Twitter Blue, as of mid-January, or less than 0.2% of monthly active users […] The U.S. number is about 62% of Twitter’s global subscriber total, the document says, which implies Twitter has 290,000 global subscribers.”

That’s consistent with the findings of researcher Travis Brown, who’s been posting regular updates on Twitter Blue subscriber numbers, based on searches of users that show up as ‘blue_verified’ in the back-end.

At present, based on Brown’s figures, the new Twitter Blue program looks to have around 300,000 subscribers, very close to the data The Information has seen.

That would mean that Twitter’s currently bringing in an extra $2.4 million per month via the program, or $7.2 million per quarter. Which is pretty good, that’s extra income at a time when Twitter desperately needs it. But it’s still way, way off from where Twitter wants its subscription revenue intake to be.

To reiterate, when initially outlining his Twitter 2.0 reformation plans, Elon said that he wants to make subscription revenue around 50% of Twitter’s overall intake. That would align somewhat with the aforementioned revenue and bot-battling potential – but in order to do this, Twitter needs to increase Twitter Blue take-up 81x its current state.

300k sign-ups is also only 0.12% of Twitter’s active user base – so to reiterate, revenue-wise, it’s not close to meeting goals, and as a bot disincentive, it’s nowhere near meeting its aims. And while Twitter has just this weekend rolled out Twitter Blue to more regions, there’s just no way that it’s ever going to reach the levels required to make it a viable consideration in either respect.

Which means that all the mucking around, all the impersonation issues, all the gold checks and gray ticks and square profile images and brand logos. All of this has, on balance, been a waste of time.

It’s not nothing – again, Twitter needs all the extra money it can get right now, and a $29 million annual boost in intake will help. But functionally, it’s been a series of blunders and missteps, one after the other.

And now, Twitter wants brands to pay $1,000 a month for a gold tick?

Yeah, safe to say that’s not going to be a roaring success either. And while Twitter will likely get a few more Twitter Blue sign-ups when it removes legacy blue checks sometime in future, that’s still only 420k extra subscribers, max.

The churn rate will also be high – because again, a blue tick isn’t valuable anymore if everyone can buy one – and unless Elon and Co. have some magic updates to build into Twitter Blue in future, beyond Blue-only polls or paying to qualify for monetization, I don’t see how this becomes a significant element of Twitter’s overall intake or process.

But maybe I’m missing something. Maybe, because it’s Elon Musk, we’ve missed the point, or the process, and there is actually another pathway to winning on this front that’s not been revealed as yet.

I don’t see it, but I can’t imagine the logistics of flying to Mars either, so maybe there’s more to come.

But I doubt it.

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