The World Press Photo Contest Updates Entry Rules After Backlash

The World Press Photo Contest has revised its entry rules to exclude submissions for AI-generated imagery, just days after announcing that such images could be entered into its Open Format competition category. The decision to welcome AI-generated submissions was met with immediate backlash from photojournalists who argued that allowing artificially created images into a photojournalism contest that documents real-world events went against the principles of the industry.

Following the criticism, the foundation has rescinded its new AI submission guidance and updated contest rules to prohibit AI-generated images from its Open Format category. The World Press Photo Foundation stated, “Thanks to the honest and thoughtful feedback over the past days, we have decided to change the rules for the Open Format category in our contest to exclude AI generated images,” in a statement published on its website on Monday. The statement also clarified that both generative fill and fully generated images will be prohibited in the Open Format category, as is already the case in other categories: Singles, Stories, and Long-Term Projects.

AI-generated images have never been eligible for submission to the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year contest

The rules for image manipulation of photos captured by a lens-based camera have also been updated to provide greater clarity on what constitutes an AI-generated image. The updated rules list acceptable examples of AI editing tools, such as denoising, automatic adjustments, and object selection. However, tools based on generative AI models that introduce new information to enlarge and sharpen images, such as Adobe Super Resolution and Topaz Photo AI, are not permitted.

In order to clarify what qualifies as a photograph amidst the use of AI, the World Press Photo Foundation has collaborated in developing ethical standards alongside photojournalism institutions and visual journalists. These standards aim to ensure that photographs are faithful representations of real events witnessed by the photographer and are not misleading to the public.

AI is becoming increasingly harder to ignore across cameras and image editing software

With the increasing integration of AI technology in cameras and editing software, the World Press Photo Foundation’s efforts to clarify submission guidelines in response to these advancements are understandable. Numerous apps, like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, feature AI-assisted editing tools aimed at automating tedious tasks for photographers. Additionally, modern smartphones increasingly rely on AI in their imaging systems, as seen in features such as Google’s new Magic Editor and Best Take used in the Pixel 8.

Amidst the widespread use of AI in the photography process, the World Press Photo Foundation’s endeavors to define permissible levels of AI manipulation in authentic photography mark a significant initiative to distinguish between AI “art” and photojournalism.

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