Getty Images believes that the AI image generator Stable Diffusion has stolen over 12 million of its copyrighted photos. The photo agency has filed a lawsuit against the company and is seeking up to $150,000 per infringement, or up to $1.8 trillion.
The details have come to light after Getty bought its case against Stability AI, Stable Diffusion’s creator, to a Delaware court where the staggering numbers were revealed in court documents.
Getty accuses Stability AI of “brazen” intellectual property theft on a “staggering scale.” In the suit, Getty is asking that Stability AI pay trillions of dollars in compensation. Getty actually receiving this amount is, of course, highly unlikely, as it is starting high with the expectation of negotiating lower.
“Getty Images’ visual assets are highly desirable for use in connection with artificial intelligence and machine learning because of their high quality, and because they are accompanied by content-specific, detailed captions and rich metadata,” it writes in the lawsuit.
Stability Diffusion is an image synthesizer model that generates pictures after it was trained on millions of human-created photos and artworks and associated words that informs the AI what objects and subjects are supposed to look like.
Getty has even accused Stability AI of being a direct competitor, building its business off the back of Getty’s extensive photo library.
The lawsuit follows on from last month when Getty brought its case against Stability AI in a London court.
Copyright experts have commended Getty’s case with Andres Guadamaz, an AI and copyright specialist, describing Getty’s complaint as “very strong.” Aaron Moss, a copyright blogger, says that the focus of the photo company’s argument is in the right place.
The case will take a long time to make its way through the courts but experts believe that the case will ultimately come down to the interpretation of the U.S. fair use doctrine — that is also currently up in the air as the Supreme Court is set to comment on it later this year.
Images generated from Stable Diffusion can recreate Getty’s recognizable watermark, damning evidence that Stability AI did trawl Getty’s library.
“Often, the output generated by Stable Diffusion contains a modified version of a Getty Images watermark, creating confusion as to the source of the images and falsely implying an association with Getty Images,” the lawsuit continues.
“While some of the output generated through the use of StableDiffusion is aesthetically pleasing, other output is of much lower quality and at times ranges from the bizarre to the grotesque. Stability AI’s incorporation of Getty Images’ marks into low quality, unappealing, or offensive images dilutes those marks in further violation of federal and state trademark laws.”
It’s not just copyright infringement that Getty is suing Stability AI over, but also for trademark infringements and copyright violation, too.
A group of artists filed a class-action lawsuit against AI image generators Stable Diffusion and Midjourney last month too as the nascent image synthesizer industry begins to face legal challenges.
Image credits: All images courtesy of Getty Images v. Stability AI