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Shutterstock partners with OpenAI to sell AI-generated stock images using DALL-E

Getty Images is collaborating with generative AI startup BRIA

Stock photo sites Shutterstock and Getty Images have both announced partnerships with generative AI startups to deploy new tools allowing users to create their own custom pictures using text-to-image models.

Shutterstock is teaming up with OpenAI for its DALL-E software, while Getty Images is joining forces with BRIA, a company based in Israel that also has its own image API. Both companies initially shunned AI-generated content on their platforms last month due to copyright concerns. 

Text-to-image models learn to map words to visual representations of objects and scenes. They are trained on large datasets made up of photographs and art scraped from websites such as Flickr, Pinterest, or Artstation. Users can use these tools to produce their own images by typing a text description.

The images used to train the models are often scraped without consent. If they can mimic the style of a particular artist, who owns the copyright? Can people use this image for commercial purposes? Unfortunately, these issues remain unsettled. Shuttersock and Getty's new partnerships only skirt around these problems.

Shutterstock said it licensed its images and metadata to OpenAI to train DALL-E in 2021, but the software was trained on other sources too. "The data we licensed from Shutterstock was critical to the training of DALL-E," OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, said in a statement. "We're excited for Shutterstock to offer DALL-E images to its customers as one of the first deployments through our API, and we look forward to future collaborations as artificial intelligence becomes an integral part of artists' creative workflows."

DALL-E will be integrated on Shutterstock over the coming months. Customers will be able to use the tool to generate and customize their own images, while creators contributing content to Shutterstock will be compensated if their photos or images are ​​used to train future models. They will be paid royalties for their intellectual property.

"The mediums to express creativity are constantly evolving and expanding. We recognize that it is our great responsibility to embrace this evolution and to ensure that the generative technology that drives innovation is grounded in ethical practices," Shutterstock CEO Paul said. 

"We have a long history of integrating AI into every part of our business. This expert-level competency makes Shutterstock the ideal partner to help our creative community navigate this new technology. And we're committed to developing best practices and experiences to deliver on our purpose, which is to empower the world to create with confidence."

Although the initiative provides some sort of compensation for artists' work, it doesn't quite solve the issue of them being ripped off in the first place to train current state-of-the-art models. Instead, the partnerships provide a direct way for stock photo companies to profit off AI-generated content. Shutterstock and Getty no longer act as just a host where creators can sell the rights to their digital artworks made using external text-to-image tools. Now they can take part in making and trading the content themselves by providing the software.

"We are proud to partner with Getty Images," Yair Adato, co-founder and CEO of BRIA, said in a statement. "Our collaboration will allow for the rapid deployment of AI powered features across their platform, enabling their customers to quickly and easily get to their ideal image no matter what their use case or project."

Ravit Dotan, the company's AI Ethics Expert, added: "When used responsibly, Generative AI can democratize creativity by reducing the technical and budget entry barriers and increase visual representation in marketing. BRIA is committed to responsible AI, with focus on respecting copyrights, bias mitigation and exploring this unmapped territory with our partners and colleagues."

The Register has asked Getty for more comment. ®

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