Getty Images, a company that sells the rights to use photographers’ and illustrators’ images, is taking legal action against the makers of an artificial intelligence (AI) image-creation tool called Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion system. The system allegedly infringed on the rights of the photographers and illustrators whose work Getty Images represents.
AI image generators “learn” to create images from simple text instructions by analyzing human-made pictures, including images found online. Many artists and photographers have said that these image generators use their work without permission. Some artists find image generators a valuable way to express themselves creatively, but many others worry that they can convincingly imitate their style and use it to produce images in seconds.
Getty Images is alleging that Stability AI unlawfully copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright and chose to ignore viable licensing options and long-standing legal protections. Getty Images CEO Craig Peters said that Stability AI’s use of their work was not “supported by the law and we believe content owners should have a say in how their work is used.”
Stability AI founder Emad Mostaque has previously said that Stable Diffusion is trained using a compressed file of “100,000GB of images” scraped from the internet. He has also talked about working on tools to enable artists and creators to opt out. These included material sourced from Getty Images.
A Stability AI representative said that they take these matters seriously but said, “It is unusual that we have been informed about this intended legal action via the press. We are still awaiting the service of any documents. Should we receive them, we will comment appropriately.” This legal action is not the only one that Stability AI is facing, as three artists are also bringing a class-action case against Stability AI, and two other defendants, in California.
They allege that Stable Diffusion is “merely a complex collage tool”, trained using “countless copyrighted images” and they are trying to protect artists from “this blatant and enormous infringement of their rights, before their professions are eliminated by a computer program powered entirely by their hard work.”