Getty Images to launch artificial intelligence image generator, feeding on its own stock photos
- The move is part of the company’s attempt to create AI content while sidestepping thorny legal issues such as copyrights
- The new tool will tap Getty’s bank of creative images, but not its news photo collection, part of an effort to prevent the creation of deepfakes
Getty, which holds the rights to millions of photographs, earlier sued Stability AI, the company that popularised the image generator Stable Diffusion, for using images without permission.
The new tool will tap Getty’s bank of creative images, but not its news photo collection, part of an effort to prevent the creation of deepfakes, chief executive officer Craig Peters said.
The new image generator will not allow users to incorporate trademarked material or assets they do not own – so there is no way to create something like the viral Pope Francis wearing a Balenciaga puffer coat image, Peters said.
In order to cater to businesses looking to create ads and other content, Getty will allow customers to add their own proprietary data or branding. Content generated through the product, which will create images based on text prompts, will not be added back into Getty’s own libraries.
The AI-generated images will receive Getty’s usual license to use the content, as well as indemnification against suits. The company also said it plans to compensate artists and contributors whose work was used to train the AI model.
The growing popularity of text-to-image AI – such as OpenAI’s Dall-E, Stable Diffusion and the Midjourney service – have raised questions about whether those tools benefit from the work of artists, photographers and designers without getting their permission or compensating them. In addition to Getty’s suit against Stability AI, various artists have also sued services including Stable Diffusion and Midjourney.
Getty will continue to invest in its legal action against Stability AI in the US and the UK, Peters said.
Uncertainty around the technology means that companies that want to use AI software to create new images for uses like ad campaigns or social media posts worry they may open themselves up to legal jeopardy and fines, said Peters, who noted that Getty’s customers have repeatedly raised this concern.
“There are real risks here,” he said. “Customers want to use generative AI but do not want to run into this sort of minefield of, ‘We don’t even know if we own this thing.’”
The new Getty service shows that AI companies that say they cannot develop the technology while respecting intellectual property rights are not being truthful, Peters said. “It fundamentally undercuts one of the arguments of those that put these generative models out there without compensating,” he said.