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Getty Images accuses AI developer Stable Diffusion of illegally exploiting its images


Can an AI use a publicly accessible image bank for its training? For Getty Images, it’s no. The American Photography Agency announced having brought legal proceedings in the High Court in London against Stability AI.

“Millions of protected images” exploited?

Stability AI is the developer behind Stable Diffusion, an artificial intelligence capable of generating computer generated images using a natural language sentence. Its operation is similar to the DALL-E tool, developed by OpenAI. In its press release, Getty Images accuses the company of having violated the copyright of the contents of its image bank. The latter would have “copied and processed millions of protected images (…) and associated metadata”. A process carried out without license, in a completely illegal way, accuses the American giant.

In other words, Stability AI would have trained its algorithms by deep learning (deep learning), on the images available on the Getty Images portal to design Stable Diffusion. To generate images, the AI ​​must indeed be based on a substantial amount of data. A dispute that could constitute a historic first in the legal field of generative artificial intelligence.

Getty cautious on AI issues

“Getty Images has provided licenses to leading technology innovators for purposes related to training artificial intelligence systems in a manner that respects personal and intellectual property rights. Stability AI has not sought such a license (…) and has chosen, in our view, to ignore viable licensing options and long-standing legal protections in pursuit of its autonomous business interests”denounces the American agency.

In September 2022, Getty changed its platform rules to prohibit the sale of AI-generated images on its services. A decision justified at the time by Craig Peters, CEO of Getty, by “genuine copyright concerns resulting from running these programs”. The announcement of legal proceedings against Stability AI thus appears logical in view of the values ​​held by the agency.

“The Stability AI team has not received information about this legal action, so we cannot comment”said a spokesperson for the company relayed by The Verge.

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