Art By MTG Artists Scraped By AI, Developing Lawsuit Claims

Josh Nelson • January 2, 2024

According to a spreadsheet shared on Twitter on December 31st, 2023, an AI trainer for Midjourney has scraped art from many artists for Magic: The Gathering. In a thread containing the spreadsheet (sourced to the website CourtListener), the AI trainer scraped many art pieces for Midjourney. This includes Karla Ortiz, one of the initial plaintiffs in the case of Andersen et al v. Stability AI. Other plaintiffs include Grzegorz Rutkowski, Gerald Brom, and various others. Perhaps most egregious is the indiscriminate scraping of the art of 6-year-old Hyan Tran, a one-time Magic artist whose sole art contribution has thus far been the Extra Life Secret Lair printing of Metalwork Colossus.

Metalwork Colossus, illustrated by Chris Rahn (based on Hyan Tran's original art).
Metalwork Colossus, illustrated by Chris Rahn (based on Hyan Tran's original art)

In the Twitter thread, Midjourney's developers allegedly plotted to curate an artist list from which to train Midjourney. The discussion has since been submitted as evidence against the defendants.

Those reading the spreadsheet noted that it included a few Magic designers as well. Cards like Look at Me, I'm the DCI and the test card Seasoned Weaponsmith were illustrated by designers Mark Rosewater and Mark Gottlieb, respectively, and therefore these designers were not below the art scraping, despite their decidedly-lesser standard of illustration (with no offense meant to either Mark).

Concerning The Art Of Hyan Tran, Age 6

Ultimately, our concerns came to a boil when Hyan Tran's name came up. Tran was only 6 when the card was released in 2021. Tran collaborated with the likes of veteran Magic artist Chris Rahn (also seemingly unspared by the scraping) for the Extra Life Secret Lair drop. Now, it seems that Midjourney has allegedly stolen the art style of a child. If that isn't nearly the textbook definition of stealing candy from a baby, we don't know what is.

This case appears justified to us. If you believe that AI art is illegitimate, consider supporting living human artists where you can. There are so many who have had work scraped by the Midjourney trainer that we can't list them all ourselves. If there are any Magic artists you like and want to support, consider heading to their most convenient art hub. Indeed, that may be the most appropriate way to assist them outside of financial support.

Josh Nelson wears many hats. They are a music journalist when not writing gaming news. Beyond this, they're a scholar of the Sweeney Todd urban legend, a fan of monster-taming RPGs, and a filthy Aristocrats player. Josh has been playing Magic since 2001 and attributes their tenure to nostalgia, effort, and "aesthetic".