Getty Images Sues AI Image Generator Stable Diffusion for Copyright Infringement in the US

getty images logo small > Getty Images Sues AI Image Generator Stable Diffusion for Copyright Infringement in the US

Getty Images announced that last week they filed a lawsuit in the US against, the company behind the AI art-generating tool Stable Diffusion, for infringement of the stock photography firm’s intellectual rights, for the unauthorized, unpaid use of millions of their stock images in the training of their software. 

This way, Getty is escalating their legal conflict with, which formally started last month and remains the only large company to sue an AI software developer for copyright infringement. 

Getty Images vs. in the US

As Getty Images VP communications informed The Verge, last Friday, Getty Images “filed a complaint against Stability AI, Inc. in the United States District Court in Delaware.” 

According to the reports, the suit is for “brazen infringement of Getty Images’ intellectual property on a staggering scale.” The media licensing firm alleges that used around 12 million of the agency’s stock images to train Stable Diffusion’s AI software without permission or compensation. 

Additionally, the complaint also accuses the AI developers of wrongfully using Getty Images’ trademark – this is because Stable Diffusion has shown it can not only recreate some of Getty’s images almost exactly –but distorted and “bizarre” looking– but also include a recreation of the agency’s watermark including its logo in said pictures. Getty claims that this dilutes the quality of the company’s marks. 

This is the second formal suit that Getty has filed against this AI startup. As we reported last month, in January, the stock media licensing experts started legal proceedings against the AI tech lab at the High Court in London for copyright infringement related to the unauthorized use of Getty Images’ content in datasets for AI training. 

Said lawsuit hasn’t been served yet, due to the protocols of the UK court, but it is informed that Getty sent a customary letter before action to regarding this proceedings, and the latter has responded. 

While Getty Images is the first image licensing company to pursue copyright infringement claims against an AI developer, they’re not the only ones taking such actions. 

In the US, a group of three artists filed a lawsuit against AI generative models Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and DevianArt’s DreamUp, for similar reasons, seeking a class action suit with an artist-minded approach. Their allegations include the unauthorized use of millions of artists’ work in AI software training and how AI art generators negatively impact artists’ livelihoods. 

On the other hand, Getty Images' is a more pragmatic claim that focuses on the lack of permission and compensation for using its image files. As we told you last year, Getty Images has partnerships with AI tech companies, authorizing the (compensated) use of images from its catalog for AI software training. 

Some experts think this gives Getty a stronger foothold in the battle, which will revolve around the US’s Fair Use doctrine and whether or not’s datasets fall under it, but think the results could go in either direction. 

However, the case in the US will move slowly and won’t see much action for many months to come. 

One thing is certain: we are seeing the new legal frame for AI-generated images forming before our eyes. 

Ivanna Attié
Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in 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.

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