AI

A tracker of generative AI-related lawsuits

The past 12 months were a breakout year for generative AI, but legal questions surround the space.
article cover

Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

Stay up to date on tech

Drones, automation, AI, and more. The technologies that will shape the future of business, all in one newsletter.

The past 12 months were a breakout year for generative AI, and there’s no sign of a slowdown in the models’ use cases—or in the growing legal questions surrounding the space.

Since the public debut of AI image-generation models like DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney, millions of people have used them to create millions of images per day, for personal and commercial uses across a wide range of industries—film storyboarding, product photos, magazine cover design, and more. And with ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot, text-generation AI—whether the output is human language or computer code—has taken off in recent months as well.

The generative AI space as a whole raised $1.3 billion in VC funding through November 2022—a 15% spike year over year, according to Pitchbook data. Between 2020 and 2021, generative AI’s VC deal count nearly doubled from 48 to 84, and deal value spiked nearly 400%.

By its very nature, using generative AI for commercial purposes attracts wide-ranging ethical and legal debates, and since the space is so new, many of the questions it has inspired remain unanswered. Cases that will undoubtedly shape how generative AI can be used in commercial settings in the future will be decided, and those ripple effects will likely advance as fast as the tech they’re inspired by.

That’s why we’ve created a tracker for legal proceedings related to generative AI. Check back here regularly for updates.

January 2023: A group of visual artists sued Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt, in a proposed federal class-action lawsuit filed in San Francisco over alleged copyright infringement. The lawsuit claims that “the harm to artists is not hypothetical—works generated by AI Image Products ‘in the style of’ of a particular artist are already sold on the internet, siphoning commissions from the artists themselves.”

January 2023: Getty Images sued Stability AI, the company behind Stable Diffusion, over allegedly violating intellectual property rights. In a press statement obtained by The Verge, Getty Images claimed that Stability AI “unlawfully copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright.”

November 2022: A programmer sued Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI—in a lawsuit seeking class-action status—over GitHub Copilot, a generative AI tool that used vast amounts of publicly available computer code to learn to write its own.

September 2022: Getty Images banned  AI-generated content on its platform, citing legal concerns. ​​In the months that followed, platforms like Adobe and Shutterstock took different approaches, with Adobe Stock accepting clearly labeled AI-generated content on its platform and Shutterstock partnering with OpenAI to integrate DALL-E 2 into its platform.

Stay up to date on tech

Drones, automation, AI, and more. The technologies that will shape the future of business, all in one newsletter.