In a courtroom clash that raises complex questions about copyright in the age of AI, artists have found themselves in an intricate legal battle. The battlefield includes the AI-image generator, Midjourney, and the art community platform, DeviantArt, among others. While some claims have been dismissed, the core question of whether training AI models using copyrighted content is illegal remains.
Judicial Verdict: A Double-Edged Sword
U.S. District Judge William Orrick delivered a pivotal ruling, refusing to let a lawsuit against Midjourney and DeviantArt proceed. The judge stated that the artists lacked sufficient evidence to substantiate their claims of copyright infringement. Yet, Orrick did greenlight a separate claim against Stability AI, a creator of Stable Diffusion, by illustrator Sarah Andersen.
Generative AI: A Contested Landscape
Generative AI is at the center of this legal battle, referring to AI programs that use prompts to generate text, images, videos, and audio. These AI models rely on extensive datasets, often sourced from the internet, to fuel their creative processes.
The lawsuit, led by artists Kelly McKernan, Karla Ortiz, and Sarah Andersen, alleged that Stability AI had not only violated copyright infringement laws but also the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the artists' right of publicity. The lawsuit also claimed that art generated in the style of a particular artist constitutes copyright infringement.
DeviantArt in the Spotlight
As for DeviantArt, the judge asserted that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated how the platform could be held accountable for collecting internet content. This data-gathering was the responsibility of LAION, a German non-profit that provides open-sourced AI models and datasets. The plaintiffs failed to establish DeviantArt's role in the data-gathering process.
Legal Battles of the AI Era
This lawsuit against AI image generators is just one of many legal battles unfolding in the evolving landscape of AI and copyright. In a parallel dispute, several authors, including George R.R. Martin, creator of "Game of Thrones," have sued OpenAI, claiming that their work was utilized in training the chatbot, ChatGPT.
With copyright infringement and AI's reach into various domains, such as art and music, this legal skirmish sets a significant precedent. The case's next hearing, slated for November 7, promises further insights into the evolving relationship between artists, AI, and the boundaries of copyright.