UK Court Grants Getty Images Trial Against Stability AI for Copyright Infringement
UK court has allowed Getty Images’ copyright dispute against artificial intelligence (AI) company Stability AI to proceed further to trial.
In a major development in the generative AI space, a UK court allowed Getty Images’ copyright dispute against artificial intelligence (AI) giant Stability AI to proceed to trial. The court disregarded Stable Diffusion creators’ arguments against the lawsuit, finding merit in Getty’s claim that its copyrighted materials were employed in training Stability AI’s AI models, as per media reports.
Prominent US stock image provider Getty Images has initiated legal proceedings against Stability AI, a key competitor of OpenAI — citing unauthorized use of copyrighted content.
The complaint asserts that the startup scraped millions of Getty’s images from online sources to train its image generation tool, known as Stable Diffusion.
What is the Case All About?
With a valuation of $1 billion, Stability AI sought to challenge the jurisdiction of the case being heard in the UK. The company argued that its models were predominantly trained in Munich by a team from Munich University and not in the UK — suggesting that the case should not be adjudicated in a British court.
Stability AI’s CEO, Emad Mostaque asserts, “I am confident that no Stability employee based in the UK has ever worked on developing or training Stable Diffusion,” as reported by the Telegraph.
However, Justice Joanna Smith, casting doubt on Stability AI’s assertions, suggested that evidence provided by Mostaque might be “inaccurate or incomplete.”
Smith’s judgment expressed concern over the apparent inconsistencies in Mostaque’s evidence, stating, “These documents raise the spectre that Mr. Mostaque’s evidence is either inaccurate or incomplete; at the very least, they suggest a conflict of evidence.”
Judge Smith pointed to previous statements made by Stability AI’s CEO in media appearances and YouTube interviews, indicating a need for further investigation. She stated that due to “unanswered questions,” a full trial is imperative and “disclosure may establish that Mr. Mostaque’s evidence is unimpeachable.”
Controversies Swirl Around Stability AI
Over the last few months, Stability AI has remained at the centre of several controversies. In November, amidst a surge in financial obstacles, reports indicated that the startup is actively considering the prospect of putting itself up for sale.
The company finds itself entangled in escalating tensions with its investors, notably Coatue Management, a major stakeholder.
Coatue Management, spearheading a funding round that bestowed a $1 billion valuation upon Stability AI, had taken a decisive stance. The investment firm has formally called for the resignation of Stability AI’s CEO, Emad Mostaque. In a communication addressed to the company’s management, Coatue expressed profound concerns regarding Mostaque’s leadership, the exodus of senior managers, and the precarious financial predicament that the startup currently finds itself in.
In early November, Stability AI’s Vice President Ed Newton-Rex announced his resignation, opposing the company’s claims that using copyrighted content for AI training is “fair use.”
“I’ve resigned from my role leading the Audio team at Stability AI, because I don’t agree with the company’s opinion that training generative AI models on copyrighted works is ‘fair use,’” wrote Ed on platform X.
As the startup navigates through legal challenges, it finds itself entangled in a series of controversies, including tensions with major investors and the potential consideration of selling the company.
With Ed Newton-Rex, the Vice President at Stability AI, resigning in disagreement with the company’s stance on using copyrighted content for AI training, the company faces not only legal hurdles but internal challenges that further shape its future trajectory.
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