Court Dismisses Artists’ Copyright Lawsuit Against AI Firms, Citing Lack of Evidence
In a setback for artists engaged in a copyright battle with generative AI firms, a class-action lawsuit against several companies has been dismissed by a judge in the United States. The lawsuit accused the firms of copyright infringement but failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the claims.
California District Court Judge William Orrick issued an order on October 30, stating that the copyright infringement suit against generative AI image service Midjourney, art platform DeviantArt, and AI firm Stability AI was defective in numerous respects. The judge granted dismissal bids from the firms, as he found the evidence presented by the artists to be insufficient.
However, Judge Orrick did allow a copyright infringement claim from one member of the class action to proceed against Stability AI. He also provided the class with a 30-day window to submit an amended lawsuit with stronger evidence.
The lawsuit was initially filed in mid-January and alleged that Stability’s AI model, Stable Diffusion, scraped billions of copyrighted images without permission, including those belonging to the artists, to train the software. The suit also claimed that DeviantArt incorporated Stable Diffusion on its platform, potentially copying millions of images without proper licensing and violating its own terms of service.
Judge Orrick expressed skepticism regarding the plausibility of the AI-generated images infringing on the artists’ copyright. He stated that unless the class can demonstrate that the generated images are similar to the artists’ work, he remains unconvinced. Certain copyright claims from class members were dismissed because their images had not been registered with the Copyright Office, a requirement for pursuing copyright infringement lawsuits.
Allegations of copyright infringement are at the heart of similar legal actions launched against AI firms, including the Author’s Guild’s class action against OpenAI, Universal Music Group’s lawsuit against Anthropic, and Getty Images’ lawsuits against Stability AI in the United States and the United Kingdom.
While this recent ruling may be considered a setback for the artists, it also highlights the importance of providing substantial evidence in copyright infringement claims against AI firms. As the debate around intellectual property rights and AI continues, it remains crucial for artists and advocates to navigate the legal landscape with well-documented cases and persuasive arguments.