Getty v Stability AI: UK judge tees up seminal AI trial
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Getty v Stability AI: UK judge tees up seminal AI trial

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Mrs Justice Joanna Smith identified inconsistencies between evidence given by Stability AI’s CEO and comments he made in the media

Getty Images’ copyright lawsuit against the developers of generative artificial intelligence tool Stable Diffusion will go to trial after a UK judge found some of the claims had a real chance of success.

In a decision issued on Friday, December 1, Mrs Justice Joanna Smith at the England and Wales High Court rejected Stability AI’s request to throw out Getty’s claims on summary judgment.

According to the lawsuit, Stability AI, which created Stable Diffusion, had scraped “millions of images” from Getty’s library of stock images and used them to train its AI tool.

Mohammad Mostaque, CEO of UK-based Stability AI, told the court the case shouldn’t be heard in the UK because no employees there had ever worked on Stable Diffusion.

In her judgment, however, Smith pointed out that Mostaque had claimed in an interview that the company had brought Russian and Ukrainian software developers to the UK to work on its products, potentially including Stable Diffusion.

There was also a real question as to whether Mostaque himself may have worked on Stable Diffusion while based in the UK, Smith added.

The judge found each of the Getty claims that had been challenged by Stability AI had a real prospect of success and should go to trial.

The judgment comes as pressure mounts on Stability AI’s leadership.

Bloombergreported last week the company’s leaders had offered the company for sale to potential investors.

According to the same report, Investor fund Coatue also called for Mostaque to resign as CEO over concerns about his leadership and Stability AI’s financial performance.

On November 15, Ed Newton-Rex resigned from his post as vice president of audio at Stability AI, apparently at concerns over its misuse of copyright-protected material.

“To be clear, I’m a supporter of generative AI. It will have many benefits — that’s why I’ve worked on it for 13 years. But I can only support generative AI that doesn’t exploit creators by training models — which may replace them — on their work without permission,” Newton-Rex wrote.

Getty is represented in the UK litigation by Fieldfisher, and Stability AI by Bird & Bird.

Lindsay Lane KC and Jessie Bowhill, instructed by Fieldfisher, appeared for Getty Images. Nicholas Saunders KC and Jaani Riordan, instructed by Bird & Bird, acted for Stability AI.

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