Photobucket is in Negotiations With AI Companies to Licence 13 Billion Images

Photobucket AI

Image and video hosting website Photobucket is reportedly in talks with generative artificial intelligence companies to license its content for the purposes of training algorithms.

Photobucket is a fallen internet giant: In the early 2000s, it boasted 70 million users with that number dwindling to two million but the rise of generative AI has offered the Colorado-based company a lifeline.

CEO Ted Leonard tells Reuters that he is in talks with “multiple tech companies” to license the website’s 13 billion photos and videos, earmarked for training text-to-image models. Leonard says he can do this because last October the company changed its terms of service to grant it “unrestricted rights” to sell any uploaded content for the purpose of AI training.

“We need to pay our bills, and this could give us the ability to continue to support free accounts,” Leonard tells Reuters.

Leonard says he has discussed rates of 5 cents to $1 per photo and over $1 per video with prices varying depending on the buyer and the types of imagery they are seeking. He declined to reveal the identity of the potential buyers.

“We’ve spoken to companies that have said, ‘we need way more,'” Leonard says. One buyer wanted over a billion videos, more than Photobucket has. “You scratch your head and say, where do you get that?”

The news that Photobucket is considering selling users’ content to generative AI comes amid reports that large tech companies like OpenAI and Google are running out of data to harvest for AI products.

Reuters compares the current market to a “gold rush” as legal certainty surrounds what some companies call “publicly available” data such as those provided by the non-profit repository Common Crawl. Meta, Google, Amazon, and Apple all have agreements with Shutterstock to use its vast archive with those deals reported in the $25 million to $50 million range.

But is it Even Legal?

Daniela Braga, CEO of, a company that licenses data to big tech firms, tells Reuters that she avoids acquiring content from platforms such as Photobucket because the licensing rights are murky.

“I would find it very risky,” Braga says. “If there’s some AI that generates something that resembles a picture of someone who never approved that, that’s a problem.”