Getty Images Takes Stable Diffusion AI Creators To Court For Copying Millions Of Images

As technology developed in the late 2010s, the 2020s have ushered in the age of A.I. and A.I. art. It's always garnered some public attention, for better or worse. Still, in 2022, things really picked up thanks to advancements in A.I.-powered tools that are available to the public, rather than just to corporate giants like Google, Microsoft, and Meta. 

In 2022 alone, we saw the popularization of the likes of ChatGPT, which lets you have a realistic conversation or even generate entire essays and numerous A.I. art generators that can fill a canvas with stunning imagery in seconds using only a few written prompts. When art from A.I. art generators, like DALL-E, started popping up on art websites and forums, artists got upset, and not only for obvious reasons like job loss. Many artists already feel like their work is undervalued by society, but the way A.I. art generators come up with their phenomenal results is controversial as well. 

One of the main arguments against A.I. art is the use of existing art to train A.I., and how that interacts with copyright law. As usual, legal frameworks have yet to catch up, but many artists feel that A.I. art is infringing on the copyright of the artists whose images were used in training, because, as the argument goes, an A.I. has no creativity of its own. 

Getty Images takes on Stability but supports AI art

According to a statement by Getty Images on January 17, 2023, Getty is undertaking legal action against Stability A.I. in the High Court of Justice in London for "infringing on intellectual property rights including copyright in content owned or represented by Getty Images." Getty Images claims that Stability A.I. illegally used its images to train its A.I. systems to further its own commercial interests, and in doing so, ignored viable licensing options and violated Getty Images' copyright.  

Notably, Getty Images' statement also clarifies the firm's stance on A.I. art in general, stating that "intelligence has the potential to stimulate creative endeavors," and Getty Images has provided licenses to several unspecified A.I. companies for the purpose of training their A.I. systems. 

Stability A.I. is the creator of an open-source A.I. art generator called Stable Diffusion, and the company aims to democratize artificial intelligence. Stable Diffusion Version 2.0, which was launched in November 2022, uses text prompts to generate high-fidelity images — one of the things opposed by many artists, but embraced by others who see the potential for easy generation of one-off assets for social media, video, or other creative works.