Getty Images takes AI art creator to court over “millions” of alleged copies

"These generative models need to address the intellectual property rights of others"

Photo library Getty Images is suing Stability AI, the company behind AI art generator Stable Diffusion, over claims that it has allegedly “unlawfully copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright.”

The legal proceedings have been filed in London’s High Court of Justice, and in a statement published yesterday (January 17), Getty Images outlined why it is pursuing legal action against Stability 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,” claims the company, which says it still “believes artificial intelligence has the potential to stimulate creative endeavours.”

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“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,” it continued. “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 Images CEO Craig Peters. Credit: Michael M. Santiago / Staff / Getty Images.
Getty Images CEO Craig Peters. Credit: Michael M. Santiago / Staff / Getty Images.

AI art generators work by scraping databases of real imagery to produce an original photo that matches users’ requests. Speaking to The Verge, Getty Images CEO Craig Peters said “these generative models need to address the intellectual property rights of others, that’s the crux of it.”

Speaking to NME, a company spokesperson for Stability AI shared the following statement:

“Please know that we take these matters seriously. 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.”

In December, hundreds of artists protested the use of art created using Artificial Intelligence on professional portfolio site Artstation.

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In other gaming news, French trade union Solidaires Informatique has called on Ubisoft Paris workers to strike after the company gave employees a “worrying” strategic update.

The update involved Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillermot telling staff that “the ball is in [their] court” to turn around the company’s recent financial difficulties.

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