Getty Images Sues Stability AI for Generative AI Art’s Alleged Copyright Violations
News and stock media service Getty Images has taken the first steps to sue synthetic media startup Stability AI, claiming its Stable Diffusion open-source text-to-image model has violated copyright law. Getty is bringing its intellectual property rights infringement complaint to London’s High Court of Justice. Stability AI already faces a separate major legal battle begun this week when a group of artists filed a class action lawsuit in California against it, along with Stable Diffusion platforms Midjourney and DeviantArt.
Getty alleges that the Stability AI broke intellectual property rules by using copyrighted images to train the Stable Diffusion AI model. Some of the billions of pictures in the LAION-5B dataset employed to train Stable Diffusion may have been scraped from the web, including Getty’s servers, without their creators’ awareness. The legal question raised by Getty and the class action case is if doing so violated copyright law or not. Notably, Stability AI has suggested there will be an opt-out option for any artist whose work might be used to train new iterations of Stable Diffusion. Getty’s attitude toward potential copyright violations by generative AI came to light last year when it officially banned any AI-generated images from its servers and started deleting any it found. Getty hasn’t mentioned any financial compensation or desire to shut down Stable Diffusion in its case. Instead, the company seems to want to force an update to intellectual property rules and regulations to address generative AI.
“It is Getty Images’ position that Stability AI unlawfully copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright and the associated metadata owned or represented by Getty Images absent a license to benefit Stability AI’s commercial interests and to the detriment of the content creators,” Getty wrote in an official statement announcing the lawsuit. “Getty Images believes artificial intelligence has the potential to stimulate creative endeavors. Accordingly, Getty Images provided licenses to leading technology innovators for purposes related to training artificial intelligence systems in a manner that respects personal and intellectual property rights. Stability AI did not seek any such license from Getty Images and instead, we believe, chose to ignore viable licensing options and long‑standing legal protections in pursuit of their stand‑alone commercial interests.”
Getty’s AI Image Future
The “leading technology innovators” Getty mentions is likely to include Getty’s collaboration with generative AI image startup Bria. Bria’s platform can produce images from text prompts, as well as provide fine-tuning them to add, move, or delete objects, change the age and expression of people in the picture, or move them to a new setting entirely. Getty plans to implement a version of Bria in its iStock subsidiary, where those who pay to license a photo can then adjust it with Bria’s AI, but only using images that users have paid for and credited as they would any standard stock photo.
“Our partnership with Bria further demonstrates Getty Images’ commitment to innovate in support of the creativity of our customers,” Getty Images CEO Craig Peters said in a statement at the time. “This partnership and our deployment is also one that we hold to the highest ethical standards and respecting of the intellectual property and personal privacy rights of others.”