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Citing Copyright Issues, Getty Images Bans AI-Generated Images

Getty Images announced that it will ban AI-generated images, given the issues surrounding the copyright of the images thus created.

The announcement came on Wednesday and encompasses all AI image-generating models, including popular ones like DALL-E and Make-A-Scene. The company said that the decision was made due to the numerous copyright issues around such images, which remain currently unsettled. Craig Peters (CEO, Getty Images) said: “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. We are being proactive to the benefit of our customers.”

Girl with a Pearl Earring outpainted
AI-edit done on the work by Johannes Vermeer

While some are calling it big companies clamping down on small creators, many others are agreeing that the concerns are not unfounded. AI-generated images, like any AI-generated content, depend on the data that is fed to train their model. Comprehensive AI systems like OpenAI usually need a training corpus of millions of data points to be able to start producing meaningful output. Image-generating AI models work the same way; it is fair to assume that a significant portion of their training corpus would be copyrighted images that comes from sites like Getty.

However, it is open to interpretation whether AI-generated images violate copyright laws. In the US, the use of copyrighted works is permissible for ‘transformative’ purposes – that is, the content is not used as-it-is, but rather for something more (including parodies, covers, criticism, and analysis). Such definition has always been open to interpretation in the usual disputes of using copyrighted material, but Artificial Intelligence has only made things messier. Legal experts remain divided on whether the use of copyrighted works for training an AI model counts as ‘transformative’ enough or not.

Also Read: Artist Senga Nengudi Wins Nasher Prize Worth $100,000

While most people are waiting for new legislation to settle this new aspect, AI-generated images have already become a polarizing topic. Many artists were furious when an AI-generated image won an art fair earlier this month. This has triggered a debate about computers replacing creative arts in the near future.