Are Midjourney Images Copyrighted? The Truth Behind Midjourney Images

Anuoluwapo Adesina

Last Updated February 05, 2023

Midjourney is one of the most popular AI art generators but is somehow faced with copyright issues. 

Copyright has long been important worldwide because it protects the author’s work from unlicensed usage. 

The problem of plagiarism plagues the platform and others like it.

Copyright is a big deal in the creative industry but is one of the biggest worries regarding AI-generated images and art. 

AI art generators like Midjourney, DALL.E 2, and Stable Diffusion are the current rave among artists and individuals. 

While some artists feel like AI art generators are trying to take over their jobs and outrightly steal their works. 

Regular individuals are happy to use these AI art generators to create art for themselves.

This article will teach you everything you need about Midjourney and copyright laws. We will start with knowing if AI-generated art is entirely free from copyright laws.

are midjourney images copyrighted

Are AI-Generated Images Copyrighted?

AI image generators are trained on billions of images from photographers and artists. Midjourney is of no exemption as it is mainly trained on hundreds of millions of images from the internet.

Derivative works from AI art generators are presently under scrutiny by regular artists.

Some artists have filed a complaint in the United States against AI art generators such as Midjourney, Stability AI, and DeviantArt.

Who is the actual owner of the AI-generated image?

are midjourney images copyrighted

The ownership of AI-generated images can be tricky since it varies depending on various factors, such as the relevant laws, the origin of the image, and how much it has been transformed.

AI-generated images might not be protected by copyright. The jurisdiction and particular legislation determine the copyright status of AI-generated images. 

Copyright protection is generally available for original works, including those produced by artificial intelligence.

 However, rather than the person who taught the AI system, the person who created the AI system that generated the image may be the owner of the copyright. 

Furthermore, authorization could be needed from the AI generator to use any aspects of the image that are protected by current copyrights, such as logos, copyrighted text, or photographs. 

Let’s study the idea of copyright for images.

Copyright Law for Images

Original works fixed in a tangible form, such as images, are protected by copyright law. The exclusive rights to an image, including the ability to reproduce, distribute, display, and generate derivative works based on the image, belong to the person who created it.


Although the intricacies of copyright law for images can differ by jurisdiction, some aspects are universal:

  • Originality: An image must be unique and creative to qualify for copyright protection.
  • Fixation: The picture needs to be preserved in a physical medium, such as a print or digital file.
  • Duration: The duration of copyright protection varies by country, although in many nations, it lasts for the creator’s lifetime plus a certain number of years after their passing. Copyright infringement can have serious legal repercussions if a picture is used without the owner’s consent or in a way that is outside the terms of a license.
  • Fair Use: Using an image without permission in certain circumstances may be deemed to be “fair use” if it is done so for a specific, transformative reason, such as news reporting, criticism, or education.

Midjourney Copyright Rules

are midjourney images copyrighted

The founder of Midjourney, David Holz, in an interview with Forbes, claimed that he uses images without seeking permission from the owners because it is virtually impossible to do so with a huge data set.

We know that these images are gotten without copyright but could the images you generate be subject to copyright?

AI artists can use the AI images generated from Midjourney but cannot stop others from using them. 

The latest version from Midjourney allows the AI artist to own the creative license to the images generated. 

Midjourney users on a free trial can only use the images anywhere but cannot sell them or make money from them. 

They are under the Creative Commons Noncommercial 4.0 Attribution International License. This category of users must also give attribution to Midjourney as the source of your AI image.

However, users that own an account on Midjourney own all AI images they generate, which can be used commercially. Midjourney’s terms of service grants its paid users the license to use any AI image they generate, but that image is also subject to be used by Midjourney. 

Complexities of Copyright with Midjourney Images

If you generate an AI art that you feel is uniquely yours due to the prompts you gave, you are still under the license agreement with Midjourney.

It can use your AI images to help others generate AI art images. Moreso, your image can be used by others to create similar images and prompts. 

For artists and photographers who may feel that Midjourney and other AI art generators may be ripping them off, there is a tool for you to use to know if your image has been used to train AI art generators.

There’s a website called, Have I been Trained, where photographers and artists can see if their images have been used to train AI models and generators. 

An image in the artist’s style can be generated by simply typing the artist’s name into a chatbox.

Here is an image we created using this prompt: “a bird by the river bank, on a rock, 4k”

are midjourney images copyrighted?

This AI image looks crystal clear. It appears like a real artist drew it but I’m not a real aritist. I’m just a lover of AI arts.

I cannot make use of this image for any commercial use because I am on a free trail with Midjourney. 

Using an artist style, Midjourney can also create AI images similar to the original work of the artist. For instance, I used this prompt, “a woman who is neither happy or sad, Davinci style”

Midjourney ended up giving me the similar style to Davinci’s  famous “Monalisa.” 

are midjourney images copyrighted

Who owns the copyright from an ai-generated art on Midjourney?

Midjourney owns the full right to all images generated on its discord platform. It can create unique and beautiful images but also generate infringing images because the original images are not attributed.

If you are using Midjourney for fun, you do not need to worry about your ai images being copyright protected. However, if you use it to create your logo or prints for commercial use, you are subject to copyright law. 

If you intend to use ai images from Midjourney for commercial purposes, then you should be in talks with an IP lawyer about Midjourney’s terms of services. 

Its terms of service are subject to change because Midjourney is still in beta. Midjourney is always open to user feedback, as a beta’s ultimate point is to provide the maximum possible service to users.

Can you sell Midjourney Arts for Commercial Purposes?

are midjourney images copyrighted

As explained previously, you can only sell AI images you generate as a paid user. No specific laws cover the use of others’ images, but that does not mean you should pose them as yours.

Is it legal to sell AI-generated images?

Selling AI-generated art that is not your own is permissible or illegal depending on several variables, including the country’s laws, the origin of the AI-generated art, and the degree of modification.

In general, selling AI-generated art without the owner’s consent could violate their rights if it is considered original and suitable for copyright protection. 


The world will probably need to confront how increasingly intelligent and potent AI can complicate and undermine existing legislation as AI develops. We will surely see some compelling court cases in the future.

The copyright of images produced by artificial intelligence is still an issue that is the focus of considerable discussion. Whatever your stance, it’s critical to remember that copyright law is constantly changing.

 It is advisable to speak with a legal expert to comprehend the unique laws and rules about AI-generated photos and copyright.

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Anuoluwapo Adesina

Tech Content Writer

Anuoluwapo Adesina is a content writer with over 4 years experience. She is extremely passionate about technology and artificial intelligence. As a content writer adequately researched and quality articles and blog posts. When she’s not writing about AI, she’s busy exploring cookbooks.

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