AI

Getty Images says “human content only, please”

The popular image database banned AI-generated content from its platform this week.
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OpenAI

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Your social feeds may be awash with DALL-E generated memes, but not everyone is embracing the recent wave of AI-generated imagery as readily. Earlier this week, Getty Images banned AI-generated content from its platform, The Verge reported.

Why it matters: Getty is one of the largest image-database companies in the world, with ~843,000 paying customers and nearly 500 million assets across its platforms. Its decision to ban the content will not only limit the ability to monetize AI-generated content but also points to a deeper potential problem with its commercial use: copyright.

Getty’s CEO, Craig Peters, told The Verge that he is concerned about potential copyright claims from artists whose work underpins the training data for tools like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion.

  • The company declined to say if it has “received legal challenges over its sale of AI-generated content,” but Peters said it was “being proactive to the benefit of our customers.”
  • Several smaller image databases have also banned the content.

For its part, the CEO of Getty’s main competitor, Shutterstock, wrote in a blog Thursday that the company is “taking steps to look at the impact AI-generated art has on our consumers and contributors,” and that it views “synthetic media as a new tool with which we can drive greater creativity.”

Some artists have argued that the commercial adoption of AI-generated content could cut into their earnings, and there is a growing movement to try and figure out what sorts of policies or regulations to advocate for in an effort to protect their financial interests.

  • A group of artists also recently released a tool that enables individuals to check if their art has been hoovered up into one of the datasets that underpins these tools.

Looking ahead…It’s possible that AI-generated imagery could fall under fair use, as The Verge pointed out, but given the newness of the field, there hasn’t yet been a court case that explicitly addresses the question.

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a Shutterstock statement that was released after publication of this article.

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