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Last update on December 16, 2022

Shutterstock is Developing an AI Image Generating Tool with OpenAI

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Shutterstock became the first of the established stock media agencies to announce its very own AI image generator, powered by OpenAI –the lab behind the popular online tool Dall-E.

The new tool, named Shutterstock Generate, will be launched in the coming months. It is built on the base of OpenAI’s software and trained exclusively with Shutterstock content. The Shutterstock contributors whose work is included in the training datasets will see monetary compensation, too. 

As the legal frame for AI-generated images has been the main obstacle for stock media providers to embrace AI imagery fully, a titan like Shutterstock making this move is significant and might signal a full acceptance of AI image licensing. 

Read on for more details!

Shutterstock Generate: Creativity at the Speed of Your Imagination

The new collaboration between Shutterstock.AI (Shutterstock’s AI-focused segment) and OpenAI is focused on the development of a new text-to-image generation tool that will be available for all users on Shutterstock’s website.

Branded Shutterstock Generate, this application will let you create visuals based on text prompts – descriptions that you type out. 

The stock media agency plans to launch the new application in the coming months, but they have a waitlist for everyone to sign up. 

Sign up for the Shutterstock Generate waitlist here. 

Ethical and Legally Safe AI Imagery

When announcing this new endeavor, Shutterstock expressed its goal of providing a transparent and ethical way to create AI images legally and being fair to the artists whose work helps train AI software to make it all possible. 

As reported by The Verge, in 2021, Shutterstock provided the images and metadata sets to train OpenAI’s machine learning algorithm – which helped achieve the current functionality of their increasingly popular AI image generator Dall-E. And now, their collaboration goes full circle as Dall-E’s text-to-image functionality lands on Shutterstock. 

As far as transparency goes, the agency is making an effort to solve the issue of the legality of AI-generated images, which has been questioned across the creative industry due to all AI imagery being created from “scraps” and bits of other existing, human-created and often copyrighted, work. 

As the tool they will offer is trained with content from Shutterstock’s depository, the images created with it are meant to be much more transparent and legally valid, or that’s the intention.

Shutterstock Contributors Compensated for their Participation in AI Generative Model Training

Regarding ethics, the media licensing company is approaching AI image generation from a “fair compensation” perspective that includes the artists whose work is at the foundation of the AI tool. 

They created a new Contributor Fund, a royalty system under which Shutterstock contributors will receive a percentage of the earnings from datasets and downloads from Shutterstock Generate –when their work was included in these datasets, of course. 

Every six months, artists will receive a payout reflecting a share of the total contract value paid by developers, where the individual share will be calculated according to the volume of their work and metadata that was included in the datasets.

Only Shutterstock Generate Images Will Be Accepted Into Their Catalog

Another important announcement Shutterstock made is they officially do not accept AI-generated images from third-party applications into their marketplace. The only AI pictures they will license will be those created using Shutterstock Generate. 

Previous to this statement, they had already been rejecting AI image submissions, citing the uncertainty around licensing this type of content due to copyright ownership issues and the questionable ethics in AI generative models scraping and processing data.

As Shutterstock Generate will be their native tool and it will include a revenue share program for contributors, they feel that it is a good solution to fully embrace AI-generated content in an ethical and legally safe manner. 

Are you looking forward to using Shutterstock Generate? We sure are!


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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