DeviantArt may perhaps be the world’s most extensive online art gallery and community where individuals can explore over 350 million art pieces while connecting to fellow artists and art enthusiasts. 

Moreover, also hitting popularity nowadays are artificial intelligence or AI art generators, primarily apps capable of creating imagery through AI. They are loved and shared by various celebrities and influencers worldwide.

However, apparently, DeviantArt and some AI art generators are being targeted with a class action lawsuit by artists. The case: copyright infringement. 

Copyright infringement

Stability AI and Midjourney, two of the biggest names in the exploding arena of AI-generated imagery, together with portfolio site DeviantArt, have become the target of this lawsuit, filed in California on behalf of artists. 

AI-generated imagery may be getting big, but it is a highly contentious field where artists write algorithms that allegedly do not follow a set of rules but learn a specific aesthetic by analyzing thousands of images. This algorithm then tries to generate new images according to the aesthetic it has learned. 

The lawsuit has been brought forward by three plaintiffs, artists. They are Sarah Andersen or Sarah’s Scribbles (if you are familiar), Karla Ortiz, and Kelly McKernan. On behalf of all artists affected, they seek compensation for damages caused by DeviantArt, Midjourney and Stability AI, and an injunction to avoid any future harm. 

The lawsuit has made various serious allegations. It said, “The lawsuit alleges direct copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement related to forgeries, violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), violation of class members’ rights of publicity, breach of contract related to the DeviantArt Terms of Service, and various violations of California’s unfair competition laws.”

Lawyer Matthew Butterick’s post

Lawyer Matthew Butterick has posted about the case, which details the three companies targeted by artists, writers, programmers, and other creators concerned about AI systems being trained on massive amounts of copyrighted work without consent, credit, and compensation.

“Hello. This is Matthew Butterick. I’m a writer, designer, pro­gram­mer, and law­yer. In Novem­ber 2022, I teamed up with the amaz­ingly excel­lent class-action lit­i­ga­tors Joseph Saveri, Cadio Zir­poli, and Travis Man­fredi at the Joseph Saveri Law Firm to file a law­suit against GitHub Copi­lot for its ‘unprece­dented open-source soft­ware piracy.’ (That law­suit is still in progress.),” the lawyer said in the post. “Since then, we’ve heard from peo­ple all over the world—espe­cially writ­ers, artists, pro­gram­mers, and other cre­ators—who are con­cerned about AI sys­tems being trained on vast amounts of copy­righted work with no con­sent, no credit, and no com­pen­sa­tion.”

Stability AI, a company known for its “Stability Diffusion,” and Midjourney are behind the two most popular AI-generated art platforms. At the same time, DeviantArt is being included in this issue. 

Butterick added, “Today, we’re tak­ing another step toward mak­ing AI fair & eth­i­cal for every­one. On behalf of three won­der­ful artist plain­tiffs—Sarah Ander­sen, Kelly McK­er­nan, and Karla Ortiz—we’ve filed a class-action law­suit against Sta­bil­ity AI, DeviantArt, and Mid­jour­ney for their use of Sta­ble Dif­fu­sion, a 21st-cen­tury col­lage tool that remixes the copy­righted works of mil­lions of artists whose work was used as train­ing data.”

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