Getty Images has banned the download and sale of artwork generated using AI art tools such as DALL-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. It is the latest and largest user-generated content platform to introduce such a ban, following similar moves by sites including Newgrounds, PurplePort and FurAffinity.
Getty Images CEO Craig Peters said The edge that the ban was prompted by concerns about the legality of AI-generated content and a desire to protect the site’s customers.
“There are real concerns regarding the copyright of the releases of these models”
“There are real copyright concerns about the outputs of these models and unresolved rights issues regarding the imagery, image metadata and the people contained in the imagery,” Peters said. Given these concerns, he said, selling AI artwork or illustrations could potentially expose Getty Images users to legal risk. “We are proactive for the benefit of our customers,” he added.
The creators of AI image generators say the technology is legal, but that doesn’t guarantee that status won’t be challenged. Software like Stable Diffusion is trained on copyrighted images retrieved from the web, including personal art blogs, news sites, and photo sites like Getty Images. The act of scraping is legal in the United States, and it appears that the release of the software is covered by the “fair use” doctrine. But fair use doesn’t apply to commercial activities like selling images, and some artists whose work has been hijacked and imitated by companies making AI image generators have called for new laws to regulate this domain.
Peters declined to say whether Getty Images has faced any legal challenges over its sale of AI-generated content. He said such content was “extremely restricted” on the platform and repeated his claim that the company was only introducing this policy to “avoid risk to [customers’] reputation, brand and bottom line.
One of Getty Images’ biggest competitors, Shutterstock, appears to be limiting some AI content searches, but has yet to introduce specific policies banning the material. Other platforms have removed AI images for reasons other than customer protection. Fur-focused social art site FurAffinity, for example, said it banned AI artwork because it undermined the work of human artists.
Some art platforms have banned AI to support human artists
“AI and machine learning applications (DALL-E, Craiyon) sample the work of other artists to create content. This generated content can reference hundreds or even thousands of works by other artists to create derivative images,” FurAffinity mods said. “Our goal is to support artists and their content. We do not believe it is in the best interests of our community to allow AI-generated content on the site.
When asked if AI-generated content poses a threat to the livelihoods of illustrators and photographers who sell their work on Getty Images, Peters suggested these tools are just the latest example of technology. increasing the amount of images available.
“The world is already flooded with images. Digital cameras have generated exponential growth in imagery given the reduced cost and simplicity of capture, transmission and use. The introduction of the smartphone and social media has taken this to new levels, with billions of images taken and published,” Peters said. “Our business has never been about ease of image creation or the resulting volume. It’s about connect and cut.
However, actually deleting AI content can be difficult. Peters says Getty Images will rely on users to identify and report such images, and that he is working with C2PA (the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity) to create filters. However, no automated filter will be completely reliable, and it’s unclear how easy Getty Images will find it to enforce its new ban.
As of this morning, a quick search of the site for “AI-generated art” reveals plenty of content for sale.