Artists take another shot at Stability, Midjourney in updated copyright lawsuit

AI (artificial intelligence) letters and a thumbnail of a robot hand in this illustration taken June 23, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

  • The judge found flaws in some of the artists’ arguments in the proposed class action
  • Amended complaint adds new artist plaintiffs, allegations

Nov 30 (Reuters) – A group of visual artists has filed an amended copyright lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney and other companies for allegedly misusing their work to train generative artificial intelligence systems.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick dismissed parts of the lawsuit last month, but gave the original plaintiffs permission to restate their claims in a new complaint. Their amended lawsuit, filed Wednesday, adds seven new artists to the proposed class action against Stability, Midjourney, DeviantArt and new defendant Runway AI, as well as more details about the alleged infringement.

Representatives for the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Illustrators Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan and Carla Ortiz initially sued the companies in January, in one of the first of several lawsuits filed by copyright owners against tech companies for allegedly using their work in AI training.

Orrick found flaws in some of the artists’ arguments, including that the companies’ AI output infringes their copyrights, but left intact their main claim that the AI ​​training process infringes their rights.

The plaintiffs confirmed their claims on Wednesday, now joined by artists H. Southworth, Grzegorz Rutkowski, Gregory Manchess, Gerald Brom, Jingna Zhang, Julia Kaye and Adam Ellis.

“While Defendants like to describe their AI imaging products in lofty terms, the reality is dirtier and nastier,” the artists said. “Artificial intelligence imaging products are primarily valued as copyright launderers, promising clients the benefits of art without the artists’ costs.”

Visual artists said the systems created art in their style when their names were used as prompts, and that users created works that were “indistinguishable” from theirs.

“Recently, plaintiff Kelly McKernan was surprised to find that the top internet search result for their name is now an AI-generated image made with Midjourney, suggested with Max’s name. McKernan,” the complaint states. “Without intervention, this is the bleak future that awaits many other artists.”

The artists also added new claims that Midjourney violated their rights under federal trademark law by promoting a list of more than 4,700 artist names, including some of their own, to use as prompts with its system.

The case is Andersen v. Stability AI, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:23-cv-00201.

For the artists: Joseph Savery of the Law Office of Joseph Savery; Matthew Butterick; Brian Clark of Lockridge Greendale

For stability: Paul Schoenhardt of Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson

For Midjourney: Angela Dunning of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

On DeviantArt: Andy Gass of Latham & Watkins

About Runway: Attorney information not yet available

Read more:

Lawsuits accuse AI content creators of misusing copyrighted works

Judge drops artists’ copyright lawsuit against Midjourney, Stability AI

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He previously wrote for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced law. Contact: +12029385713

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