From Plagiarism Today:
Yesterday, Getty Images and iStock have announced that they are following in the footsteps of other art sites, including NewGrounds and Inkblot, in banning artwork generated by artificial intelligence (AI) from their service.
According to Getty’s announcement, “There are open questions with respect to the copyright of outputs from these models….” They further add that the move is to protect their customers from potential legal issues down the road.
Getty noted that this ban does not prevent the submission of 3D renders nor does it prevent the use of any digital editing tool, such as Photoshop or Illustrator.
It’s easy to look at this as another example of a battle line being draw with regards to AI-generated art. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
As divisive as AI-generated art is, the Getty ban is very different from the ones we discussed earlier this month. The reason is that Getty works different from sites like NewGrounds and their lack of comfort with AI stems almost entirely from legal concerns, not quantity or quality concerns.
To that end, it’s worth looking at why Getty, most likely, chose to ban AI images and how that could impact AI art moving forward.
Why Getty is Different
Sites like Newgrounds and Inkblot accept user-submitted content and host it on their servers. Because of this, they enjoy a great deal of protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright act (DMCA) should some of that content turn out to be infringing.
In short, under the DMCA, as long as they retain a DMCA agent and remove allegedly infringing content when properly notified, they will be protected under the law.
However, Getty is in a different position. First off, they have editorial control over the images and then license those images to customers. This greatly increases their legal exposure as they could face repercussions both from directly from artists and their customers.
After all, part of Getty’s service they provide is that they promise customers that they hold the rights to the images they are licensing and, because of that, customers won’t face legal consequences for using Getty-licensed works.
But, with AI, that becomes a problem. All AI systems are trained on earlier works, and how much of those earlier works make into the images that it outputs depends entirely on the AI and the prompt it was given.
The fear is that the AI could “generate” art that is so similar to some of the work it was trained on that it could represent a copyright infringement. However, there’s simply no way for the human creator of the AI work, let alone Getty, to know if that’s a possibility with a given image.
As such, Getty has decided to avoid the issue altogether for now, banning AI art from its service.
Not Just Copyright
Though copyright gets the lion’s share of attention when it comes to legal issues AI art faces, there are other potential problems too.
For example, AI can be used to create images of real people in very unreal situations. We saw this recently with an AI app that swapped the face of actors in porn films with other people, creating the illusion that a different person was in the footage.
Though the AI that performed that was shuttered, there’s no reason other tools couldn’t do the exact same thing.
However, it isn’t just pornography. AI can generate images of individuals in a variety of compromising situations that never happened such as getting arrested, supporting/speaking hate speech and so forth.
All this raises issues of defamation. This is especially difficult for Getty, as many of their customers are news agencies, seeking photographs to accompany their reporting.
Getty is in the business of licensing images that are free of legal issues. In short, they’re selling legal certainty. AI images are the antithesis of that, generating not just countless images, but an equal number of legal unknowns that Getty is not prepared to take a chance on at this time.
Link to the rest at Plagiarism Today
The OP continues, noting that at least one other image-posting/licensing site has prohibited AI generated images.
PG suggests that litigation concerning copyright and ai images is almost certain to happen at some point in the not-too-distant future. If he had to guess about an early plaintiff, he would name Walt Disney, which has made and continues to make a huge amount of money from its cartoon characters.
If anyone sees/hears about an ai copyright case, PG would appreciate an alert through the Contact PG link at the top of the blog.