Shutterstock Follows Adobe in Offering Legal Protection For Any Generative AI-Derived Synthetic Media
Stock media giant Shutterstock has promised to protect any enterprise customer using its generative AI tools to make synthetic media. The company added an indemnification clause to its license boilerplate text, asserting it will take on any legal claim against a user over copyright or other legal misuse because it is confident that its text-to-image generator doesn’t violate any of those regulations. The announcement comes shortly after Adobe made a similar pronouncement about its Firefly synthetic media generator a couple of weeks ago.
Shutterstock unveiled the image generator powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 engine back in January, and Adobe introduced Firefly in March. In both cases, the synthetic media services used customized training on their respective libraries. Shutterstock offers royalties to artists whose work was used for the training.
“We’re at an inflection point in the use of generative AI technology as business professionals are seeking more assurance around their rights to legally use AI-generated content, and creators of original content want to ensure their work is fairly licensed for use,” Shutterstock general counsel John Lapham said. “We have always sought to manage risk for our customers and are uniquely positioned to bring a commercially viable image generator to market and indemnify its outputs, because of our relationship with artists and intimate understanding of the complexities of licensing.”
Adobe has made it clear it will pay out any claims for a lawsuit over Firefly content as well. Adobe provides a list of training sources, which includes its own library, collections licensed for training, or public domain databases. Adobe is testing a payment system for artists with work on its platform. There’s also a new “Do Not Train” feature enabling artists to incorporate a request into an image’s metadata to block data scrapers from using it to train AI. In both cases, the built-in protections let the companies feel secure about indemnifying users against lawsuits or other legal problems.
“With Firefly, Adobe will also be offering enterprise customers an IP indemnity, which means that Adobe would protect customers from third-party IP claims about Firefly-generated outputs,” Adobe said in a statement.
Shutterstock and Adobe have both built their systems to avoid the issues faced by many synthetic image engines. For instance, Getty Images filed a complaint against generative AI service and Stabe Diffusion creator Stability AI with London’s High Court of Justice, while a group of artists lodged a class action lawsuit in California against Stability AI, along with Stable Diffusion platforms Midjourney and DeviantArt. In both cases, the issues arise from the copyrighted images amongst the billions of pictures used to train Stable Diffusion. That includes the open-source LAION-5B dataset AI model and the images Stability scraped from the web, including Getty’s servers, without their creators’ awareness. The indemnity clauses suggest generative AI will be a central element for both companies, especially on the enterprise side of things.
“This is a critical advancement, not just for our platform, but for the industry as creatives and business professionals alike can use the AI content generated on our platform for any purpose, whether it’s commercial or personal, without worrying about copyright infringement or ethical issues,” Shutterstock vice president of product Jeff Cunning, said. “We’re excited to play a leading role in shaping how generative capabilities can be leveraged ethically, safely and in more creative ways than ever. We feel it’s a crucial step towards protecting our customers and our artists.”