A free-to-use artificial intelligence (AI) watermark remover that removes photographers’ copyright marks has caused consternation in the creative community.
WatermarkRemover.io’s premise is quite simple: “Get rid of the watermarks from your images using our powerful AI technology,” it trumpets on its website.
It’s also available as an app on the Google Play store and even provides examples of images where the pesky watermark has been removed.
I really don't understand anymore.
Where are we heading? pic.twitter.com/ALzHDFNZ4A
— Tobias van Schneider (@vanschneider) January 24, 2023
Creative designer and photographer Tobias van Schneider tweeted a screenshot of the website’s homepage.
“I really don’t understand anymore. Where are we heading?” He asks his 111,000 Twitter followers.
“It’s fairly easy technically with the latest AI advancements. AI can create art from scratch now, so it can fairly easily draw in between the lines,” an Schneider explains.
“Works similarly to how you’d do it in Photoshop with the content-aware stamping tool, just automated and faster.”
Is this Legal?
Chapter 12 of the U.S. Copyright Act suggests that removing a watermark without the owner’s consent is illegal. But, there are grey areas and the tool itself is lawful.
However, the website’s promotional video, above, shows watermarks on professional-looking photographs being swept away in an instant.
While the tool can obviously be used by people wanting to remove watermarks from licensed images so they can avoid paying a fee, one person pointed out a less nefarious use for the tool.
“I’ve used this for showing mocks to clients,” writes Arron J. Hunt. “They always get hung up on watermarks in previews, so it’s nice to show a high res image before making the purchase.”
As Creative Bloq notes, watermarks can be the only tool to protect a photo once it’s been posted online. However, watermarks are a personal choice with many photographers opting to not put one on.
“Watermarks are worthless, serve no purpose, and make your work less valuable,” says one dissenter.
“The tools to violate your (stupid) watermark only get stronger every day. Create work that speaks for itself and causes consumers to demand to know its source”
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.