AI Art Is in Trouble After New Lawsuit From Getty Images

The landscape of AI-generated art may be about to change in a big way. Friday, Getty Images filed a lawsuit against Stability AI—one of the many AI image providers—alleging the service copied upwards of 12 million images in an attempt to train its artificial intelligence model.

A spokesperson for the editorial image provider confirmed the ongoing litigation, adding that lawsuits have been filed both in the United States and across the pond. "We can confirm on Friday Getty Images filed a complaint against Stability AI, Inc. in the United States District Court in Delaware," Anne Flanagan, Getty communications vice president said in a statement obtained by The Verge. "Getty Images has also filed a Claim in the High Court, which has not been served at this time. As is customary in the UK, on January 16 Getty Images sent and requested a response to a letter before action from Stability AI Limited within a customary timeframe. Stability AI Limited have confirmed receipt of this letter."

As the lawsuit alleges, Stability AI, in addition to other similar services, uses images to train its software so that subscribers can generate new images without any artistic talents. These images are typically created after a user inserts a prompt phrase into the software, often telling it to replicate the style of a certain artist without prior approval from said artist.

Copyright attorney Aaron Moss was the first to break news of the lawsuit, suggesting it could be pivotal for the industry moving forward. 

"Getty's new complaint is much better than the overreaching class action lawsuit I wrote about last month," Moss tweeted. "The focus is where it should be: the input stage ingestion of copyrighted images to train the data. This will be a fascinating fair use battle."

In an interview with The Verge, Moss added the litigation is something that could take months to resolve. "I'm currently handling a matter there, and was told that judges routinely take months (like sometimes up to 6-9 months) to decide motions to dismiss after they're submitted," the lawyer told the website. "It will likely take several years for the Getty Images case to get through discovery and summary judgment motions before trial."