Court Docs Reveal Midjourney Wanted to Copy the Style of These Photographers

Leibowitz, Salgado, Adams
Left to right: Annie Leibowitz, Sebastian Salgado, and Ansel Adams. Their names were all found on the list.

Court evidence has revealed a huge list of artists’ names kept by Midjourney whose style the AI image generator allegedly wanted to copy. This list includes dozens of photographers.

The database of some 16,000 names has been submitted as part of a lawsuit amendment to a class-action complaint brought by three artists suing Midjourney and Stable Diffusion.

The huge list includes thousands of artists’ names; among them are scores of photographers — both living and dead — whose styles Midjourney apparently wanted to copy so that users of its AI image generator could make AI pictures in the style of that photographer.

The Google Sheet was linked to on X (formerly Twitter) by Jon Lam where access was quickly restricted to it but not before it was made available on the Internet Archive.

PetaPixel browsed through the enormous list of names, searching for photographers whose style was likely to be wanted by Midjourney and found 26 names under the “Proposed Additions” tab. There are doubtless countless more but the full list found is below.

The list of photographers’ names PetaPixel found: Mario Testino, Annie Leibowitz, Steve McCurry, Gregory Crewdson, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David LaChapelle, Man Ray, Andre Kertesz, Weegee, Vivian Maier, Nan Goldin, Robert Capa, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann, Martin Parr, Wolfgang Tillmans, William Eggleston, Richard Avedon, Sebastian Salgado, Brassai, Dorothea Lange, Helmut Newton, Elliot Erwitt, and Ansel Adams.

The list also contains thousands of artists’ names as well as specific styles and sub-styles and even corporate entities such as Disney and Nintendo.

Midjourney internal communications
Screengrabs of Midjourney’s internal communications that was shared to X and is also part of the lawsuit amendment. | Jon Lam

Screengrabs from Midjourney’s internal messaging service were also shared by Jon Lam on X and is part of the lawsuit. In these messages from early 2022, Midjourney CEO David Holz is allegedly seen sharing the Google Sheet and discussing how he compiled the list.

In October, the case brought against Midjourney and Stable Diffusion by the three artists — Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz — was dealt a blow after a judge in California largely dismissed their copyright claims.

However, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick did not throw out the case entirely and allowed them to amend their claims which they have done.

PetaPixel reached out to Midjourney for comment but the company did not respond ahead of publication.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons.