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“We have filed a lawsuit against Stable Diffusion, a 21st century collage tool that violates the rights of artists. Because artificial intelligence must be fair and ethical for all“.
This is the text that heads the stablediffusionlitigation.com page dedicated to this legal action against different companies for violating the rights of millions of artists.
Matthew Butterick, writer, designer, programmer and lawyer. In November 2022, he teamed up with lawyers Joseph Saveri, Cadio Zirpoli and Travis Manfredi of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm to file a lawsuit against GitHub Copilot for its “unprecedented piracy of open source software”. That lawsuit is ongoing.
Butterick says they have since heard from people around the world, especially writers, artists, programmers and other creators, who are concerned about AI systems being trained on large amounts of copyrighted work without consent, credit or compensation.
Now, they’ve gone a step further in the quest to make AI fair and ethical for all.
They have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of three artists (cartoonist Sarah Andersen and illustrators Kelly McKernan and Karla Ortiz) against Stability AI, DeviantArt and Midjourney for their use of Stable Diffusion, a tool that remixes the copyrighted works of millions of artists whose works were used as training data.
Attorneys Brian Clark and Laura Matson, of the law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P., have joined the case.
Butterick, believes that the conversation about how AI will coexist with human culture and creativity is vital. He believes that the image-generating companies have already made their views clear and that now is the time for them to listen to artists.
On the Respondents
Founded by Emad Mostaque, Stability AI is based in London.
Stability AI funded LAION, a German organisation that is creating ever-growing datasets of images – withoutconsent, credit or compensation to the original artists – for use by AI companies. Stability AI is the developer of Stable Diffusion. Stability AI trained Stable Diffusion using the LAION dataset.
Stability AI has also launched DreamStudio, a paid application that includes Stable Diffusion in a web interface.
DeviantArt, founded in 2000, is one of the largest artist communities on the Internet.
As Simon Willison and Andy Baio demonstrate, thousands – and probably millions – of LAION images were copied from DeviantArt and used to train Stable Diffusion.
Instead of defending its community of artists by protecting them against AI training, DeviantArt chose to launch DreamUp, a paid application built around Stable Diffusion. In turn, a flood of AI-generated art has flooded DeviantArt, displacing human artists.
Midjourney was founded in 2021 by David Holz in San Francisco and offers a text-to-image generator via Discord and a web application. Although it bills itself as a “research lab”, Midjourney has amassed a large audience of paying customers who use Midjourney’s image generator professionally.
Holz said he wants Midjourney to “focus on making everything beautiful and artistic looking”, to which end he admitted that Midjourney relies on“a lot of scraping from the internet“. Although when asked about the ethics of mass copying of training images, he said something quite different.
Movements in Italy
This action is similar to what MeFu! is doing in Italy to get AI regulated in Europe. They are running a crowdfunding campaign to cover the legal costs of enforcing an EU regulation on how data is collected for AI training.
The founding of the MeFu! collective also involved a group of comic professionals in order to better represent the diversity and complexity of the Italian comic market. This group is composed of: Simone “Sio” Albrigi, Francesco Artibani, Paola Barbato Elena , Casagrande, LRNZ, Manuele Fior and Ariel Vittori.
MeFu! website – Crowdfunding campaign.