Getty Images CEO Craig Peters has criticized companies “racing” to commercialize AI art generators, saying companies are not thinking about the potential legal and ethical dangers of the technology.
In an interview with The edge, Peters reiterated Getty Images’ rule against selling AI content (which it banned in September), while announcing a new partnership between the company and Israeli company Bria to offer AI-powered image-editing tools. Getty Images’ stance on AI-generated content marks a marked difference from rival Shutterstock, which announced today that it will integrate AI art generator DALL-E directly into its site’s offerings.
“I don’t think those questions have been answered.”
“We’ve moved around AI-generated imagery to protect our customers,” Peters said The edge. “There are a lot of questions right now – about who owns the copyright to that material, about the rights used to create that material – and we don’t want to put our customers in that legal risk area. […] There are claims that copyright is owned by x, y, z, from certain platforms, but I don’t think those questions have been answered.”
Peters added: “I think we are looking at some organizations and individuals and companies that are reckless […] I think the point here is that these questions are not answered. In some cases, they are simply set aside. I think that’s dangerous. I don’t think it’s responsible. I think it could be illegal.”
Many AI art generators are trained on data scraped from the internet, including copyrighted images like Getty Images’ own stock photos. While some experts say the creation of these systems likely falls under US fair use doctrine, others suggest legal challenges could arise in the future as the law catches up with this new technology.
However, Peters says Getty Images is not ignoring the creative potential of AI, stressing that the company’s partnership with Bria will allow it to offer customers “ethical” AI tools. In the short term, these will focus on image editing rather than generation. Bria’s own site advertises how the company’s technology can be used to automate simple tasks such as removing objects or performing more drastic operations such as changing the race, gender and appearance of models in stock photos.
“Create images that resonate with any audience by adjusting facial expressions to change people’s sentiment and rearrange new presenters,” says the copy on Bria .’s website. “Instantly adapt your visuals to different target demographics and A/B testing variations to see which best meet your business goals.”
When asked whether AI-generated content posed a threat to Getty Images’ business, Peters was adamant that it didn’t. He cited the rise of ubiquitous cameras in smartphones as proof that expertise, rather than volume, is the determinant of content sales.
“[The smartphone] didn’t threaten our business, because the core of our business is to deliver images that actually change a person’s level of interest – that grabs our attention,” said Peters. “There’s a level of expertise in the images we create that goes beyond a level of just ‘give me a picture’.”