Shutterstock Partners with OpenAI in a New AI Image Generation Tool 

Update: Shutterstock Generate became available for all on Shutterstock's website on January 25, 2023. You can go to Shutterstock Generate directly, and here you can read all the details about the official launch! homepage

And so the game begins! Shutterstock became the first of the established stock media agencies in announcing their very own AI image generator, powered by none other than OpenAI –the lab behind the popular online tool Dall-E

The new Shutterstock Generate, which will be launching in the coming months, is built on the base of OpenAI’s software and trained exclusively with Shutterstock content which adds transparency, and contributors whose work is included in the training datasets will see a monetary compensation. 

This is a big move in the industry, as the legal frame for AI-generated images has been the main obstacle for stock media providers to fully embrace it. 

Read on for all the details!

amos > Shutterstock Partners with OpenAI in a New AI Image Generation Tool 

It was written on the AI wall that generative AI is here to stay in the stock photo industry. The first agency to embrace this technology most securely and ethically, will be the one to win the game (and the customers). Shutterstock might be this winner, at the moment, by showing its capability to use its massive image database to train an ethical dataset for Open-AI, aka Dall-E, and by using it for commercial AI images. They even thought about compensating their contributors in the long run.

So the AI-Game is on – and we might see other players joining the field of generative AI (looking at you, Getty Images, and Adobe Stock). Exciting times!

Amos Struck – Industry Expert – Founder of Stock Photo Secrets and

Shutterstock + OpenAI: Creativity at the Speed of Your Imagination

The new collaboration between Shutterstock.AI (Shutterstock’s AI-focused segment) and OpenAI will result in a new, text-to-image generation tool that will be made available for all customers on Shutterstock’s website.

Branded Shutterstock Generate, this tool will let you create visuals based on text prompts – descriptions you type out. 

The company says the new application will roll out in the coming months, but the waitlist is already open for everyone to sign up. 

Sign up for the Shutterstock Generate waitlist here. 

Shutterstock Generate sample images > Shutterstock Partners with OpenAI in a New AI Image Generation Tool 
Sample AI-generated images from Shutterstock Generate

An Effort for Ethical and Legally Clean AI Images

The highlight of this announcement is that Shutterstock has been working on bringing AI-generated visuals to its platform in what they express will be a transparent and ethical way that is legally safe for customers, and according to them, also fair for contributors. 

Their partnership with OpenAI started back in 2021 —as thoroughly reported by The Verge— when they provided the AI software development firm with Shutterstock images and metadata sets to train their machine learning algorithm (which OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman claims was “critical to the training of Dall-E”) And now, their collaboration is reciprocated as the text-to-image functionality lands on Shutterstock. 

As we discussed on Stock Photo Secrets before, the legality of AI-generated images and the validity of said images’ copyright is still under question, mainly due to the fact all AI imagery is created from scraps and bits of other existing, human-created, and often copyrighted work. 

Shutterstock has taken steps to solve that issue with this partnership, as the tool they offer is trained with content from Shutterstock’s library and thus there is a greater level of transparency surrounding the resulting visuals created with their new tool. 

Compensating Contributors for AI Generative Models

Furthermore, they are creating a new Contributor Fund, a royalty system for Shutterstock contributors whose work was included in training datasets sold to AI software developers such as OpenAI. creative fund

Essentially, artists will receive a percentage of the earnings from datasets and from downloads from Shutterstock Generate. Every six months, they will receive a payout reflecting a share of the total contract value paid by developers, where the individual share will be calculated according to the volume of their work and metadata that was included in the datasets.

Details about the royalty rates for this program have not been announced as of yet. There is also no mention of this being an opt-in or opt-out program.

Shutterstock Not Accepting AI Image Submissions from Any Tool Other than Shutterstock Generate

Another relevant piece of information shared today, is that the agency is officially not accepting AI-generated images as submissions to their marketplace, that were not created with their own native tool.

As we anticipated some time ago, they cite the uncertainties around copyright ownership, the ethics around AI models scraping and processing data, and licensing legalities as the main reasons to refuse this content. 

Instead, they will have the Shutterstock Generate tool that they can trust, and the revenue share program for contributors. This is their solution to fully embrace AI-generated pictures in what they hope to be an ethical and legally-safe way. 

This is a critical move in the industry and we at Stock Photo Secrets are very excited to see where it leads. Are you?

Amos Struck
Amos Struck

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus on providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography like WordPress plugins. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

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