Shutterstock, one of the internet’s biggest sources of stock photos and illustrations, is now offering its customers the option to generate their own AI images. Gizmodo reports: In October, the company announced a partnership with OpenAI, the creator of the wildly popular and controversial DALL-E AI tool. Now, the results of that deal are in beta testing and available to all paying Shutterstock users. The new platform is available in “every language the site offers,” and comes included with customers’ existing licensing packages, according to a press statement from the company. And, according to Gizmodo’s own test, every text prompt you feed Shutterstock’s machine results in four images, ostensibly tailored to your request. At the bottom of the page, the site also suggests “More AI-generated images from the Shutterstock library,” which offer unrelated glimpses into the void.
In an attempt to pre-empt concerns about copyright law and artistic ethics, Shutterstock has said it uses “datasets licensed from Shutterstock” to train its DALL-E and LG EXAONE-powered AI. The company also claims it will pay artists whose work is used in its AI-generation. Shutterstock plans to do so through a “Contributor Fund.” That fund “will directly compensate Shutterstock contributors if their IP was used in the development of AI-generative models, like the OpenAI model, through licensing of data from Shutterstock’s library,” the company explains in an FAQ section on its website. “Shutterstock will continue to compensate contributors for the future licensing of AI-generated content through the Shutterstock AI content generation tool,” it further says.
Further, Shutterstock includes a clever caveat in their use guidelines for AI images. “You must not use the generated image to infringe, misappropriate, or violate the intellectual property or other rights of any third party, to generate spam, false, misleading, deceptive, harmful, or violent imagery,” the company notes. And, though I am not a legal expert, it would seem this clause puts the onus on the customer to avoid ending up in trouble. If a generated image includes a recognizable bit of trademarked material, or spits out celebrity’s likeness — it’s on the user of Shutterstock’s tool to notice and avoid republishing the problem content.