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Last update on February 10, 2023

Getty Images Sues Stable Diffusion for Copyright Infringement in the US

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Getty Images doubled down on its legal battle against AI image generator Stable Diffusion, as they announced that last week they filed a lawsuit against Stability.ai –the lab tech behind the AI art generating tool– similar to the one they introduced in the UK last month. 

In the suit, the stock media licensing company alleges Stable Diffusion has infringed its intellectual rights through unauthorized, unpaid use of millions of its stock images in the training of their software. 

Getty remains the only big company to sue an AI generative model developer for copyright issues, but Stability.ai is certainly not without legal trouble in the US. 

Getty Images vs. Stability.ai: The US Case

This week we learned through The Verge that Getty Images filed a complaint against Stability AI, Inc. in the United States District Court in Delaware last Friday. The information came from Getty Images’ VP communications. 

Per the announcement, the prestigious stock photography agency is suing Stable Diffusion’s parent company for “brazen infringement of Getty Images’ intellectual property on a staggering scale.” 

They allege that Stability.ai used around 12 million of the agency’s stock images to train Stable Diffusion’s AI software without permission or compensation. 

Furthermore, they accuse the AI developers of wrongfully using Getty Images’ trademark – Due to some results achieved with Stable Diffusion that displayed not only distorted but still exact recreations of Getty Images’ pictures that even included the agency’s watermark with its logo. Getty claims that this dilutes the quality of the company’s marks. 

Getty Images Legal Battle with Stability.ai

This is the second formal lawsuit that Getty has filed against this AI startup. As we shared with you last month, in January, the stock media licensing experts started legal proceedings against the AI tech lab at the High Court in London for copyright infringement related to the unauthorized use of Getty Images’ content in datasets for AI training. 

Per the words of Getty’s spokesperson, that suit hasn’t been served yet, due to the protocols of the UK court. Still, Getty sent a customary letter before action to Stability.ai regarding these proceedings, and the latter has responded. 

Stability.ai and AI Image Generators Legal Status in the US

Getty Images is the first image licensing company to pursue copyright infringement claims against an AI developer, but they’re not entirely alone. 

In the US, a group of three artists introduced a class action lawsuit against AI generative models Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and DevianArt’s DreamUp, for copyright infringement with an artist-minded approach. Their allegations include the unauthorized use of millions of artists’ work in AI software training and how AI art generators negatively impact artists’ livelihoods. 

While both cases have relevance, some industry experts believe Getty has a stronger position in their arguments since they will force a decision based on the US’s Fair Use doctrine. At this time, there is no certainty as to which side could win, but the developments will be interesting to follow. 

Want to know more about the situation in the AI imagery industry? Check out the latest visual AI stats!


Ivanna Attie

All About Ivanna

I am an experienced author with expertise in digital communication, stock media, design, and creative tools. I have closely followed and reported on AI developments in this field since its early days. I have gained valuable industry insight through my work with leading digital media professionals since 2014.

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AI Secrets is a platform for tech decision-makers to learn about AI technology. Our team includes experts such as Amos Struck (20+ yrs ICT, Stock Photo, AI), Ivanna Attie (expert in digital comms, design, stock media), and more who share their views on AI.

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