In addition to concerns about content created by artificial intelligence (AI) taking jobs away from humans, there also seem to be questions about the materials these tools are trained on. This applies to the Stable Diffusion and Midjourney artwork systems. Three artists are suing their developers along with portfolio site DeviantArt for alleged copyright infringement.
The class-action lawsuit alleges that the AI generators Stability Diffusion, Midjourney and DreamUp were trained on billions of copyrighted materials without credit, compensation or consent from the content owners.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses the AI tools of direct and indirect copyright infringement, violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), violation of publicity rights, breach of contract and “various violations” of California law on unfair competition.
“While this new technology is attractive, these products infringe on the rights of thousands of artists and creators,” said Joseph Saveri Law Firm LLP, which represents plaintiffs Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, Carla Ortiz and many other artists and stakeholders, in a statement.
The art world has reacted aggressively to the surge in popularity of artificial intelligence art tools over the past year. While some argue that these tools, like earlier versions of software like Photoshop and Illustrator, can be useful, many argue against using their work to train these profitable algorithms. Millions of photos from the Internet are used to train generative art AI models, usually without the knowledge and consent of the authors. AI generators can then be used to create artwork that mimics the style of a particular artist.
It’s a complex question that experts say will need to be decided in court as to whether or not these technologies infringe copyright. The primary defense offered by developers of artistic AI tools is that the concept of fair use extends to training that software using copyrighted data.
1/ As I learned more about how the deeply exploitative AI media models practices I realized there was no legal precedent to set this right. Let’s change that.
Read more about our class action lawsuit, including how to contact the firm here: https://t.co/yvX4YZMfrG
— Karla Ortiz 🐀 (@kortizart) January 15, 2023
But there are complexities when it comes to AI art generators, and questions about fair use still need to be addressed. These include the location of the organizations that created these tools, as the legal frameworks for data extraction in the EU and the US differ significantly from each other, as well as the goals of these organizations. For example, Stable Diffusion is trained on the LAION database, which is a German research non-profit organization, and non-profits may be treated more favorably than regular companies in fair use cases.
words of David Holz (midjourney founder), from forbes article (link below): pic.twitter.com/rnWP28rrag
— Maciej Kuciara (@maciej_kuciara) December 20, 2022