Getty Images sues infringing AI image producer, Adobe promotes AI-driven copyright assurance

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In February 2023, Stability AI was sued by Getty Images for copying more than 12 million Getty photos and their associated metadata to feed and train a revenue-generating platform called DreamStudio.

That platform is powered by Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion model, and competes with Getty and others – without paying royalties to Getty Images.  Not only was Getty Images concerned about copyright, but also that “Stability AI has caused the Stable Diffusion model to incorporate a modified version of the Getty Images’ watermark to bizarre or grotesque synthetic imagery that tarnishes Getty Images’ hard-earned reputation.”

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“Bizarre or grotesque synthetic imagery” included in Getty Images complaint against Stability AI. Source: Complaint filed 2/3/23 by Getty Images.

According to the complaint filed in US District Court by Getty Images, Stability AI is valued at more than $1 billion and is substantially controlled by one individual.

Rapid response

The technology industry responded quickly.  In March Adobe announced and began testing of copyright assurance functionality for its Firefly AI technology, which Adobe has been offering through a stand-alone public beta Web site.  

Adobe has trained Firefly onto millions of professional- grade, licensed images in Adobe Stock, “along with openly licensed content and public domain content where the copyright has expired,” says Adobe.

In recent weeks, Adobe confirmed that it is applying the feature to Adobe Photoshop’s Generative Fill feature, to its all-in-one creative tool Adobe Express, and to its other creative tools so that content generated within those applications is licensed and legal to use. The company is also partnering to bring this functionality to content and technology partners.

Natural evolution

Generative AI is a natural evolution of Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill feature, which originated in the 1990s to correct errors or remove unwanted artifacts such as telephone wires and street signs from areas of an image.  Now, the feature is positioned as a time-saver for creative professionals who can fill areas with imagery legally sourced from the Adobe Stock library.

Firefly also embeds copyright assurance into Adobe Express through a feature called Content Credentials, which Adobe positions as a feature that brings “critical trust and transparency to digital content wherever it travels.”

Adobe AI partnerships

Semiconductor maker NVIDIA launched its own generative AI tool for image content, Picasso, and is partnering with Adobe, Getty Images and Shutterstock to foster development that is responsible to copyright.  NVidia’s work with Adobe is in support of Adobe Cloud products including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects, as well as through NVidia’s Picasso.   Its work with Getty and Shutterstock will be to access and license their respective legal content through APIs.

Adobe is also partnering with Google to integrate the text-to-image capabilities of Firefly and Express with Google’s conversational Bard generative AI platform.

One of the use cases it is promoting is to create a social media ad for new customers by asking Bard to generate an image, and then use Adobe tools and templates tt compose and modify social media campaigns.

Further reading:

Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial. Getty Images (US), Inc.Plaintiff, v Stability AI, Inc Defendant. Case 1:23-cv-00135-UNA. Document 1. Filed 2/3/2023. US District Court for the District of Delaware (Document is hosted by Reuters)

All-New Adobe Express With Firefly Revolutionizes How Creators and Brands Design and Share Standout Content.  Press release. June 8, 2023. Adobe Systems Inc.

Dream Bigger: Get started with Generative Fill, powered by Adobe Firefly Generative AI now in Photoshop. Blog article. May 23, 2023. Pam Clark.  Adobe Systems Inc.

Adobe and NVIDIA Partner to Unlock the Power of Generative AI. Press release. March 21, 2023. NVIDIA

Why it matters

Adobe has a vested interest in the legal licensing (and purchase) of content from its own content business.  Hence, its position of advocacy “(for) accountability, responsibility, and transparency in generative AI and Firefly” is easy to explain.

To cast a broader net of copyright advocacy across the technology industry, Adobe also runs a Content Authenticity Initiative and co-founded the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, in partnership with Microsoft, Truepic, Arm, Intel and the BBC.

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