Visual artists who display their work online have been facing a new challenge in the last year when it comes to protecting their intellectual property rights, with the growing rise in popularity of AI art generator products. These data-to-image programs use thousands of image samples for AI training, enabling the users of them to create ‘new’ artistic works based on text prompts that are fed into the program. However, many artists and photographers are accusing the creators of these platforms of copying their work without their consent, and without any offer of financial remuneration.
One of the companies under fire is Stability AI, the owner of Stable Diffusion, which is currently facing legal action from both Getty Images and from a group of artists in the US, who filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against it (and the companies Midjourney and DeviantArt, Inc.) back in January of this year. Getty is alleging that Stable Diffusion has used millions of its stock photographs without the owners of the software obtaining a suitable license from Getty to do so. Separately, many creators on Twitter have posted examples of their original work alongside AI-generated work that appears to show key similarities.
Artists are used to often having to deal with certain companies or individuals directly reproducing their work without permission, in violation of copyright law, but as machine learning technology advances it may become harder for creative practitioners to prove their work has been copied. The line between an original and a reproduced artistic image will also continue to blur, potentially causing further problems when the rights holders involved try to take legal action. The question remains how copyright law will adapt to this ever-changing environment.
Written by Charlotte Jones for ip21 Ltd