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Amid copyright fears, Getty Images bans AI-generated art

Getty Images has banned the sale of AI generative artwork created using image synthesis models like Stable Diffusion, DALL-E 2, and Midjourney through its service.

“There are real concerns with respect to the copyright of outputs from these models and unaddressed rights issues with respect to the imagery, the image metadata and those individuals contained within the imagery,” said Craig Peters, chief executive officer of Getty Images, in an interview with The Verge.

Getty Images isn’t the only company making this move. Smaller art community sites such as Newgrounds, PurplePort, and FurAffinity have also issued a ban on image synthesis throughout September. AI-generated work has populated these small communities, threatening to overwhelm artwork created without the use of those tools.

Shutterstock, one of Getty Images’ competitors, is limiting some searches for AI content but has yet to introduce a ban on the material. Other platforms have removed AI imagery for reasons other than protecting customers. Social art site FurAffinity said it banned AI artwork because it undermines the work of human artists.

Due to copyright concerns, Getty Images is banning the sale of AI generative artwork, even though the ability to copyright this type of art has not yet been tested in court. Additionally, the ethics of using artists’ work without consent to train neural networks that create almost human-level artwork is still an open question now being debated on social media. 

To protect the company’s brand and its customers, Getty Images decided to avoid the issue completely with its ban. 

But a report from The Verge noted that removing AI content is easier said than done. Peters noted that Getty Images will rely on users to identify and report such images, and that it’s working with the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA) to create filters. However, no automated filter will be completely reliable reliable, and it’s unclear how easy Getty Images will find it to enforce its new ban.

In fact, a search of the site last week for “AI-generated art” still guided customers to content for sale.

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