The AI tool behind that Lensa Magic Avatar selfie fad that came and went last month is named in a new batch of copyright lawsuits, as artists say their work was swiped without permission or attribution.
We apologize in advance for including one of those infernal AI selfie pictures at the top of this post, as your social media timelines were ravaged with this nonsense around a month ago this time. Most of these were generated by a Lensa feature called “Magic Avatars.” And no, it’s not “art,” it’s microwave-popcorn “content” designed purely to drive millions of dollars in investments toward a batch of rich-kid artificial intelligence startups.
But we post one of those infernal AI selfies to alert the haters out there that the copyright lawsuit against these AI startups has finally arrived, according to the Examiner. The suit argues that these AI tools “scrape” and duplicate the work of artists who are not compensated for their work, nor did they give permission for the work to be used as such.
2/ I am proud to be one of the plaintiffs named for this class action suit. I am proud to do this with fellow peers, that we’ll give a voice to potentially thousands of affected artists. I'm proud that now we fight for our rights not just in the public sphere but in the courts!— Karla Ortiz 🐀 (@kortizart) January 15, 2023
The suit was filed Friday in a San Francisco U.S. District Court, and the above tweet is from one of the three plaintiffs, artist Karla Ortiz. “Unethical practices by AI companies are now given the scrutiny it deserves by the public, the media, legislators and soon the courts,” she says further in the Saturday thread above. “We are now starting to scratch the surface of all the harms these models could bring, and what we need to do to prevent this harm, and act to do so, with creatives helping lead the way!”
Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt are being sued by a trio of artists who allege that the companies' AI art models violate copyright law ---> this is the first major lawsuit I know of targeting AI art models and definitely one to watch https://t.co/ScPzFmuPlR— James Vincent (@jjvincent) January 16, 2023
To be clear, the plaintiffs are not suing the app Lensa, nor its parent company Prisma Labs. As The Verge explains, they are suing the maker of a tool that Lensa uses, which is called Stable Diffusion, an invention of the company Stability AI. This particular suit is also suing the makers of another AI art tool called Midjourney, and the art repository website DeviantArt.
“While this new technology is enticing, these products infringe on the rights of thousands of artists and creators,” the plaintiffs’ law firm Joseph Saveri said in a statement. “The creators of these image generators violated the rights of at least thousands of artists when they created their various products."
I never thought I'd say this, but... I agree with Getty Images here. It's fairly absurd that musicians have to clear even a tiny audio sample but AI tech is able to harvest massive quantities of data without consent. https://t.co/UDkdPBcsRt— peterkirn (@peterkirn) January 17, 2023
And for good measure, Getty Images is also suing Stability AI for scraping their images, according to CNN. Getty Images released a statement saying “Stability AI unlawfully copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright and the associated metadata owned or represented by Getty Images absent a license to benefit Stability AI’s commercial interests and to the detriment of the content creators.”
Stability AI responded to the Examiner with a comment about the San Francisco artist lawsuit. “We take these matters seriously,” a spokesperson told the paper. “Anyone that believes that this isn’t fair use does not understand the technology and misunderstands the law.”
Image: Lensa.ai via Instagram