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AI Meets Interior Design

An Article for TDC By Lawyer, Sharon Givoni

Image by Rock'n Roll Monkey, Unsplash

In the evolving landscape of interior design, the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has opened a new frontier of creativity and innovation, simultaneously presenting unique legal challenges. The integration of generative AI into the design process is transforming how designers conceptualise and execute their visions, offering tools that can generate complex designs with simple inputs.

However, with all of this comes the potential for dilution of signature styles that define individual interior designers.

Artificial Aesthetics

AI's capacity to amalgamate existing interior designs to create new ones raises critical questions about originality and copyright protection under Australian law and this is an area that clients are increasingly coming to me for looking for answers.

You see, traditionally, copyright in designs is granted to works that are original, stemming from the creator's skill and effort. They need to be original in the sense that they are not copied but independently created. And they also need to be reduced to material form – not just an idea but reduced to drawings and plans.

What we are seeing is that AI's role in the design process can start to blur the line between human creativity and machine-generated output. In turn, this challenges the legal framework that protects an interior designers' intellectual property.

The current legal landscape in Australia, governed by the Copyright Act (Cth) 1968, automatically gives copyright to the creator of an original work upon its creation for example when pen is put to paper or when plans are drawn.

However, our existing copyright law did not anticipate the rise of AI and its implications for copyright ownership.

Image by Andrea De Santis, Unsplash

AI Design: Copyright Challenges

Thus, the question of who owns the copyright to AI-generated designs—whether it be the AI user, the AI developers, or the AI itself—is somewhat ambiguous.

This ambiguity extends to the protection of designers' signature styles, a hallmark of their creativity and brand identity. Signature styles, though not explicitly categorised under copyright law, are essential for designers to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.

For interior designers, the risk lies in AI-generated designs that mimic their signature style, potentially leading to confusion in the marketplace and diluting their brand. Protecting these unique styles requires navigating the intricacies of copyright law and possibly seeking legal avenues such as trademark registration, which on the rarer occasion can offer some level of protection for distinctive elements associated with their brand.

Image by Ryan Ancill, Unsplash

To mitigate these risks, interior designers might wish to consider:

  • Documenting the Design Process: Keep thorough records of the design process, highlighting your own individual contributions to distinguish your work from AI-generated designs.

  • Review AI Terms and Conditions: Before using AI tools, understand the copyright implications outlined in their terms of service, particularly regarding ownership of generated content.

  • Seek Legal Protection: Consider consulting with a legal professional to explore copyright disclaimers, licences, and other protections for your work.

  • Trade Marks: you might even see if you can trade mark distinctive elements of your signature style to safeguard your brand identity. Today, we can trade mark not just brands or logos but other aspects of a brand including shapes and colours.

  • Developing a Distinctive Style: You might want to also cultivate a style so unique and recognisable that it becomes synonymous with your brand through reputation, such a as incorporating specific certain colour schemes, textures, or architectural features into your designs such that over time, they become associated with your work and setting you apart in the interior design industry. This approach carves out a niche that AI cannot fill.

Sharon Givoni, from Sharon Givoni Lawyers

The intersection of AI and copyright law represents a dynamic challenge to you as designers and us as lawyers!

Finding a balance between embracing technology and preserving the individuality is arguably at the heart of creative design.

To learn more about the capabilities of AI in the world of design and architecture, join our Free Group Coaching session "AI for Designers" on the 28th March 2024.

This article was written by Sharon Givoni (Sharon Givoni Consulting).

Sharon Givoni Consulting is a forward-thinking law firm dedicated to empowering interior designers across Australia. Specialising in contracts, copyright, and a spectrum of legal matters pertinent to the creative industries, they strive to safeguard your artistic vision and business interests in the evolving digital landscape.

Email Sharon:

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