Valve has expressed hesitation about allowing games with AI assets onto the Steam store. Several game developers recently came forward saying their games were rejected by Valve for this reason, and today Valve released a statement expressing reservations about allowing such games given the current state of AI and copyright law.
A Valve spokesperson said in a statement published to GamesIndustry.biz: “The introduction of AI can sometimes make it harder to show a developer has sufficient rights in using AI to create assets, including images, text, and music. In particular, there is some legal uncertainty relating to data used to train AI models. It is the developer’s responsibility to make sure they have the appropriate rights to ship their game.”
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Last month, a developer posted their rejection letter from Valve on the AIGameDev subreddit. The letter read, “After reviewing, we have identified intellectual property in [game] which appears to belongs to one or more third parties. In particular, [game] contains art assets generated by artificial intelligence that appears to be relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties.”
The letter added, “As the legal ownership of such AI-generated art is unclear, we cannot ship your game while it contains these AI-generated assets, unless you can affirmatively confirm that you own the rights to all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create the assets in your game.”
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Criticism of AI in game development
The use of training data without proper compensation is a major sticking point for AI — in game development and elsewhere. Developers such as Ubisoft, Ninja Theory and Roblox have publicly spoken about using AI in their development process, and in each case the question of where the training data comes from was part of the pushback against it. Voice actors criticized using their voices to train voice-based AI, for example.
In a recent copyright case involving the comic book Zarya of the Dawn, the U.S. Copyright Office ruled that the comic’s author couldn’t copyright any images created with AI as they are not the product of human authorship. Valve said in its statement, “Stated plainly, our review process is a reflection of current copyright law and policies, not an added layer of our opinion. As these laws and policies evolve over time, so will our process.”
The spokesperson added that Valve is open to integrating AI and other emerging tech into its policies. “We welcome and encourage innovation, and AI technology is bound to create new and exciting experiences in gaming. While developers can use these AI technologies in their work with appropriate commercial licenses, they can not infringe on existing copyrights.” They also added that Valve would refund the developers’ app-submission credits in this instance.
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