DALL-E Opens with Commercial Use- What Does This Mean for Stock Photos

Big news in the visual content world: OpenAI’s image generator DALL-E is now open and 1 million users will be able to use it to create AI images that they can sell. 

Elon Musk’s AI tech firm recently announced that they officially started inviting 1 million users from their waitlist to join DALL-E and use it with either creative or commercial intent. 

DALL-E users will be given free credits each month, as well as the chance to buy more, and access to the software’s generation and edit features. And they will get full usage rights to commercialize the content created with the tool. 

What exactly can you do with DALL-E? Can you sell your DALL-E imagery on a stock photo site? Read on and find out!

DALL-E 2 Beta: Generate Synthetic Media for Free

DALL-E generation example

Per the announcement, DALL-E will be inviting 1 million users from its waitlist over the coming weeks. And each of them will get access to the following features: 

  • Generation: Create images from a prompt using natural language description. Each generation prompt delivers four images 
  • Edit: Make realistic edits to images generated by DALL-E or uploaded by the user, using natural language description. Each edit prompt delivers three images. 
  • Variations: Grab an image generated by DALL-E or uploaded by the user, and create different versions inspired by the original. Each variation prompt delivers three images. 
  • My Collection: Save your image generations on the DALL-E platform

During this phase, DALL-E users will receive an initial allotment of 50 free credits to use on the platform, and 15 new credits each month while they’re signed up. One credit equals one prompt, so we are talking about a start point of between 150 and 200 images, and between 45 and 60 images every month from then on, all for free. 

You can join the DALL-E waitlist right here.

DALL-E Pricing for Extra Prompts

If you need more than the free allowance, there will be an option to buy credits, in packs of 115 credits for $15. This results in 345-460 images depending on which feature you use. 

Per the announcement, they will consider user feedback to explore other buying options in the future. 

DALL-E edit example

DALL-E 2’s New Safety Measurements

As part of this new step in DALL-E’s journey, OpenAI has disclosed the new safety policies they’re implementing, following feedback and data collection from the research phase. Namely: 

  • They’re rejecting image uploads that include recognizable faces, as well as generation prompts that seek to recreate the likeness of public figures (celebrities and politicians, for example), or realistic photos of real individuals. 
  • They’re improving their filters to block users from creating harmful content –this includes violent, adult, or political content– and also removing this kind of data from the software’s training altogether. 
  • They’re implementing a new technique that is said to improve 12x the generation of diverse images of people, to help reduce bias. 
  • They’re using both automated and human monitors to supervise the platform and avoid misuse

These measurements, which align with DALL-E's content policy, are aimed at making the content generated on DALL-E 2 safer in the face of the new commercial use possibilities.

DALL-E variation example

DALL-E Images for Commercial Use

One of the key points of the service is that from now on, users will get full usage rights for all the media they create on DALL-E 2, including rights to reprint, sell, and merchandise. 

This means that you will be able to create images with this software and then use it in your commercial projects – like to illustrate a children’s book or a storyboard for a movie… or to sell it to others. 

This is the real game-changer that everyone in the industry is echoing right now. It would seem that the future of visual content is here, and “syntographers” are set to take the industry by the storm with their AI-generated images. 

But is that really so in terms of the stock photo world? Can you really sell DALL-E-generated images as stock photography?

DALL-E and Commercial Use: Not As Clear As We Wish

While in principle holding full usage rights (something akin to copyright) would mean you are cleared to use DALL-E-made content for things like marketing and advertising, or full-on commercial use like physical products, in practice the legality of these images is still rather murky. 

You see, while OpenAI is publicly advertising its efforts to make the synthetic media from DALL-E safer, it is not that clear if the images they used to train its algorithms were properly released and legally authorized for said use. 

  • Their new and improved safety policies still don’t take that into account. What happens with the biometric data and copyright from the millions of images used to train the software to date –some of which may or may not come from stock photo sites, by the way– or that of all the images users will soon be uploading in their creative efforts? 

As we mentioned not too long ago in our coverage of AI-generated images, the legal frame for synthography is in its infancy, but serious companies are taking it, well, very seriously. For example, it'll be one key topic in the upcoming DMLA Conference this October.

  • Would reputable stock photo agencies accept DALL-E-generated images on their catalogs? Not unless they can be 100% certain of their legal status. 
  • Would big brand names be willing to use DALL-E-created visuals in their marketing campaigns, or on their products, without knowing for sure they’re legally safe? Not quite sure either, right now it would seem that’s still a considerably risky move, as cool as it would make them look. 

There is no doubt that synthetic media is the future, and it will continue to grow, and the photography and design businesses shall evolve along with it. But while the opening of DALL-E 2 is exciting, it also opens questions without clear answers at this time. 

What do you think? Are you on DALL-E 2’s waitlist? 

Ivanna Attié

Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in StockPhotoSecrets.com and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

2 Comments
  1. Reply Avatar of Stephanie Watson-Barry
    Stephanie Watson-Barry July 31, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    As a content creator, I’m super excited. I got in DALL-E and I love it. I will use it as they have said we can and I’m super excited about it. I’m looking forward to how things evolve. The evolution of text to art has been amazing and is moving fast.

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