Getty Images Claims Stable Diffusion Has Stolen 12 Million Copyrighted Images, Demands $150,000 For Each Image

Getty Images filed a lawsuit last Friday that was made public on Monday. It claimed that Stability AI, the company behind Stable Diffusion’s AI image generator, stole 12 million Getty images with their captions, metadata, and copyrights “without permission” to “train its Stable Diffusion algorithm.”

Getty Images has asked the court to order Stability AI to remove violating images from its website and pay $150,000 for each. Although it is unlikely that Stability AI would have been found guilty of copyright violations on 12 million images and would be fined the maximum amount, damages would be excessive. However, it would be difficult to prove all the violations. Getty submitted over 7,000 images, metadata, and copyright registration, used by Stable Diffusion.

We reached Stability AI to get the comment, but we didn’t hear back immediately. Getty Images has already started similar legal proceedings in the UK court.

The Seattle-based stock photo site notes that many images created by Stable Diffusion include a Getty Watermark. This is the same watermark that appears when you view a photo before downloading an image license on gettyimages sites. This is because of the way diffusion model AI generation works.

These systems add noise to images to deconstruct them. The system then adds the different aspects to its data lexicon and de-noises that image. The system will consider multiple images of a match containing the same Getty watermark as integral parts of the final product. Getty provided several examples of its distorted watermark in the lawsuit.

Getty Images Stable Diffusion Copied 12M Copyrighted Images
Left: Original Image, Right: Stability AI Image

Further, the lawsuit claims Stability AI is aware that its AI art generator creates this distortion Getty watermark, “but it hasn’t modified its model to prevent that from occurring.”

Andres Guadamuz, a UK-based Intellectual Property researcher, said on Twitter that logos weren’t copyrighted. However, the stock image site could claim these images have damaged Getty’s brand. Stable Diffusion 2 does a better job of not reproducing watermarks than the older versions. However, they are still more likely to display watermarks.

According to Bloomberg, Stability AI received $101 million from major venture capital companies last year and was valued at $1 billion by an anonymous source. Getty claimed that this race to the top in AI dominance was due to Getty’s copyrighted material and millions upon millions of copies.

Getty isn’t the only one to sue an AI generator company for copyright infringement. Three artists who claim their AI generators have violated copyright laws have filed a class action lawsuit against Stability AI and fellow AI generators Midjourney and DeviantArt. Experts says these lawsuits could help to guide the technology’s future.

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