A recent development on Reddit has revealed that Valve is willing to ban all Steam games that feature any type of AI-generated images. According to a post by u/potterharry97, the company is unwilling to publish games featuring AI-generated pictures created by source material that the developer does not have the rights to.
According to the Reddit post, potterharry97 was trying to publish a game to Steam with just 2 or 3 AI-generated assets that he thought would pass Valve’s inspection. However, Valve contacted him, saying it could not ship the game due to copyright issues with the AI-generated art in the game, saying the art assets appeared to be “relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties.” Valve added, “As the legal ownership of such AI-generated art is unclear, we cannot ship your game while it contains these AI-generated assets…”
For the game to pass Valve’s inspection, the developer must “own the rights to all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create the assets…” according to Valve’s response to the original poster. Even after the developer went back and modified his artwork by hand, Valve still banned his game due to the same copyright issues.
Valve’s stance on AI-generated content is very constrictive and will prevent a lot of developers from utilizing AI-generated content in their games (unless they want to jump ship). Based on Valve’s response, developers must effectively own the rights to ALL source material used to train the AI. This is impossible since most AI networks are trained on millions of images/assets across the web to create compelling content.
However, in potterharry97’s case, we aren’t sure if he modified the original assets by hand or if they were completely AI-generated. All we know is that he tried to modify them after Valve told him to remove the problematic assets from the game. Technically, if the developer had completely AI-generated assets from the start, Valve’s stance wouldn’t hold up since AI-generated images are not entitled to copyright protection according to the U.S. Copyright Office.
But, if the images were made by people who incorporate AI-produced images, the assets can be copyright protected. This could be what Valve is referring to, but we can’t be sure at this time.
Either way, copyright protection surrounding AI-generated content is constantly shifting, so it’s hard to blame Valve for not taking extra precautions. Nonetheless, it will be frustrating for developers who want to use any sort of AI-generated content in their games. Even if the AI-generated content is clean of human modifications, it might not be easy to prove.