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Getty Images Sues Stability AI for Scraping Millions of Copyrighted Photos

Getty Images is suing Stability AI, the creators of the popular AI art tool known as Stable Diffusion, for scraping millions of images from its site. The stock photo company claims the creators of the AI tool have engaged in copyright violation and “chose to ignore viable licensing options and long-standing legal protections in pursuit of their stand-alone commercial interests.”

“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,” Getty said in a statement shared with the Verge.

The visual media powerhouse added that it provides “licenses to leading technology innovators for purposes related to training artificial intelligence systems in a manner that respects personal and intellectual property rights,” as it believes “artificial intelligence has the potential to stimulate creative endeavors.”

But “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,” the company said.

Therefore, Getty has “commenced legal proceedings in the High Court of Justice in London against Stability AI claiming Stability AI infringed intellectual property rights including copyright in content owned or represented by Getty Images.”

Getty CEO Craig Peters told the Verge that Getty Images has issued Stability AI with a “letter before action,” which is a formal notification of impending litigation in the UK.

“The driver of that [letter] is Stability AI’s use of intellectual property of others — absent permission or consideration — to build a commercial offering of their own financial benefit,” Peters said.

“The company made no outreach to Getty Images to utilize our or our contributors’ material so we’re taking an action to protect our and our contributors’ intellectual property rights,” he added.

While the full details of Getty Images’ lawsuit have not yet been revealed, Peters said the charges include copyright violation and violation of the site’s terms of service regarding web scraping, the Verge reported.

Peters added that the company is not interested in financial damages or stopping the development of AI art tools. The Getty Images CEO said they just want to create a new legal status quo when it comes to how these AI tools operate.

“I don’t think it’s about damages, and it’s not about stopping the distribution of this technology,” Peters told The Verge. “I think there are ways of building generative models that respect intellectual property.”

“I equate [this to] Napster and Spotify,” he added. “Spotify negotiated with intellectual property rights holders — labels and artists — to create a service. You can debate over whether they’re fairly compensated in that or not, but it’s a negotiation based of the rights of individuals and entities.”

“And that’s what we’re looking for, rather than a singular entity benefiting off the backs of others,” Peters said. “That’s the long term goal of this action.”


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