NetEase-backed LOFTER’s Avatar Generation Function Triggers Infringement Dispute

LOFTER, a life-sharing community owned by Chinese tech giant NetEase, recently launched an “avatar generator” function for testing, but was immediately met with controversy as several parties claimed infringement of intellectual property rights. Creators questioned whether this feature would use their original paintings without their permission, disrespect their intellectual property rights, and fail to protect their rights.

LOFTER gathers together 80 million interest tags and 13 million creators, and has many fields such as games, animation, photography, film and television, entertainment, among others. The platform supports the publishing of various content in forms of pictures, texts and short videos.

On March 7, LOFTER published some results of its investigation into its users profile habits in which it found that about 64.5% of its users change their avatars on social media every three weeks, especially among younger users. Therefore, the platform wanted to test the “avatar generator” to meet such demand.

LOFTER said that its “avatar generator” test has no profit purpose, and the training data for this function came from open sources instead of the original works of users. The platform guaranteed that if there is an infringement, the original author will be compensated to the amount of 10,000 yuan ($1,441) for each picture.

In response to the feedback from users, LOFTER decided to adjust the test portal of its “avatar generator” so that the generated pictures can only be used on the platform, and downloading and publishing the images would no longer be allowed.

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In the future, LOFTER will add more management rules for AI content on the platform. For example, AI-generated content will be banned from being published in the form of original works, and a more reasonable mechanism will be designed to distinguish AI content from an original work.

LOFTER’s tool is essentially painting with AI that learns from a set of training data, and then creates a new painting. In China, 2022 witnessed a surge of AI painting. In most AI painting software on the market, the painting style and content are determined by users themselves. AI paintings, like ordinary paintings, can reflect a certain level of intelligence and the author’s personalized expression.