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A group of three artists have begun legal proceedings against Midjourney and Stability AI, the creators of the AI art generators Midjourney and Stable Diffusions. The lawsuit is also against art portfolio giant DeviantArt, which has recently launched its own DreamUp AI art generator.

The artists — Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz — claim the three organizations (Midjourney, Stability AI, and DeviantArt) abused copyrights of “millions of artists” through the training of their AI. Specifically, the AI models scraped over five billion to learn, “without the consent of the original artists”.

The lawsuit is being led by lawyer/typographer Matthew Butterick and Joseph Saveri Law Firm. If you are familiar with those names, it is because they are also currently suing Microsoft, OpenAI, and GitHub over the GitHub Copilot service.

In fact, the lawsuits are similar in many ways as the plaintiffs in that case claim GitHub infringed on coders by scraping their work without permission.

Copilot gives access to code archives users can access to plug gaps or fill in areas of their code. To do this, it takes code from the GitHub archive from public repositories. Since its announcement, Copilot has met with controversy that has generally persisted since.

AI Art Copyright Infringement

In a blog post announcing the suit, Butterick says the latest case is “another step toward mak­ing AI fair & eth­i­cal for every­one.” He says AI art tools “flood the mar­ket with an essen­tially unlim­ited num­ber of infring­ing images will inflict per­ma­nent dam­age on the mar­ket for art and artists.”

It is worth noting that creators of AI tools such as these argue that their data collection falls under fair use. It is an incredibly complex situation and I suspect this is just the beginning of a reimagining of copyright laws in the digital space.

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