November 29, 2023
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA
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Shutterstock offers customers legal indemnity for AI-created image use

Stock content provider and creative suite Shutterstock is the latest company in its field to offer customers a legal indemnity against suits related to AI-generated images created and licensed on its platform.

In its announcement, issued Thursday, Shutterstock said that the aim is to provide a level of assurance to users of its services who want to leverage the ability to use AI-generated imagery but are concerned about legal risks that could arise under US intellectual property laws.

“This is a critical advancement, not just for our platform but for the industry, as creatives and business professionals alike can use the AI content generated on our platform for any purpose, whether it’s commercial or personal, without worrying about copyright infringement or ethical issues,” said the company’s vice president of product, Jeff Cunning, in the company announcement.

The indemnity mostly relates to one recently launched product from Shutterstock, namely its AI Design Assistant (an image generator that allows users to select a particular style and type of content for generated images), which is powered by the DALL-E generative AI image creator from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT. Shutterstock said that its contributor fund funnels monetary compensation to the artists who created images that the AI Design Assistant was trained on.

Shutterstock said that the AI Design Assistant has already been used by a test customer, which it described as a “global technology” firm, which used a generated image during a virtual developer conference in May. It’s now available to the general public as an on-demand service.

The company said that indemnity requests will be fulfilled on-demand, based on a human review of all created content from Shutterstock. A team of workers at the company will then review that content for potential issues around third-party trademarks, copyright or publicity rights, and, if everything passes muster, Shutterstock promises identical legal protection that would otherwise apply to non-AI-generated content it licenses.

Shutterstock’s indemnity program is similar to the one announced last month by Adobe, which unveiled its own program alongside the release of Firefly, a generative-AI-powered image creation tool. Firefly, Adobe said, works through training on both images owned by the company, and those in the public domain or other material not subject to copyright rules. Like Shutterstock, Adobe said that its indemnification for AI-generated images is meant to be as similar as possible to the one that covers the company’s other assets.

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