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Shutterstock to sell AI-generated stock images

Shutterstock has partnered with OpenAI, the company behind the AI text-prompted image generator, Dall E 2, which will soon be available to the stock agency’s customers.

Inside Imaging will pepper this article with Dall E graphics generated by Reddit users, who uploaded the results to the subreddit r/dalle2

Try finding this in a stock photography archive!

The news comes after Shutterstock announced contributors are prohibited from uploading AI generated graphics. Some applauded Shutterstock for appearing to be loyal to its contributors, as AI image generators like Dall-E 2 are primed to compete with stock photographers. \

It turns out that Shutterstock will sell AI generated art, but this can only be made with the OpenAI integration, cutting contributors out of the equation. Shutterstock again showing a disdain for its contributors.

Since the emergence of the Dall-E 2 text-to-image AI system, many pundits have asked whether this marks the end of stock photography.

Even Inside Imaging‘s editor began writing an article on the topic just over a month ago. It was never published. Although here’s an excerpt:

‘It’s not clear what impact – if any – AI graphics generators will have on professional photography.

At this stage it’s most primed to disrupt stock photography, as text-driven prompts can generate a generic image. This could be useful for current stock photography clients who require a specific and unique graphic, which is ordinarily licensed through a stock agency.

Although even the most powerful publicly-available text-prompted graphics generators like Dall-E 2 have their shortcomings. The results range from impressive and accurate, to disturbing and completely random. Sometimes small elements are out of proportion, such as a person’s facial features looking just a little off, while other times the rendering is comedic as if Dall E is in on the joke. The AI system almost has a sense of humour.

While it’s still in its infancy – who knows how advanced the technology will become in the future – it falls short of completely putting the human graphic designers and stock photographers out of business. But it’s still a remarkably powerful and intuitive tool, and will undoubtedly have an impact on digital image creation.

The Dall E is notoriously generator struggles with generating text.

Since 2021 Shutterstock sold images and metadata to OpenAI, with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman describing this data as ‘critical’ to the training of Dall-E. The Verge highlights how Shutterstock contributors ‘may understandably feel aggrieved that their own content is being used to put them out of a job’, and to make amends the stock agency has announced a ‘Contributor Fund’. This will reimburse contributors when Shutterstock sells work to train text-to-image AI models. There has been criticism that AI models have been trained by scraping huge datasets – millions or even billions of images, that includes copyrighted work without consent from authors.

It’s unclear if this was the case with Shutterstock and OpenAI, but the launch of the Contributor Fund seems to suggest so.

A fairly accurate interpretation of the prompt, no?

Getty also banned AI-generated graphics. But this is due to legal concerns surrounding the inability to copyright the output leading to licensing issues. A Shutterstock spokesperson informs The Verge there are a ‘lot of questions and uncertainty around this new technology, specifically when it comes to the concept of ownership’. And despite even Getty not wanting to touch it, apparently there is no problem.

‘Because AI content generation models leverage the IP of many artists and their content, AI-generated content ownership cannot be assigned to an individual and must instead compensate the many artists who were involved in the creation of each new piece of content.’

The Verge suggests this, as well as protecting the OpenAI partnership, is why Shutterstock is banning third-party AI content. It can’t ‘validate the model used to create the content so can’t be sure who owns the copyright’, the article states.

‘Given the collective nature of generative content, we developed a revenue share compensation model where contributors whose content was involved in training generative models will receive a share of the earnings from datasets and downloads of all AI-generated content produced on our platform,’ the Shutterstock spokesperson said. ‘Contributors will receive a share of the entire contract value paid by platform partners. The share individual contributors receive will be proportionate to the volume of their content and metadata that is included in the purchased datasets’.

With Shutterstock contributors being paid as little as US$0.05 for images licenses, it’s a safe bet this will be a fraction less.

There is one problem with Shutterstock’s integration of OpenAI’s Dall E. Why wouldn’t an agency forgo the middle man, Shutterstock, and simply generate graphics directly through OpenAI for cheaper.

This is Dall E’s version of the famous stock photo that became a meme of a guy looking over his shoulder at a girl in a red dress.






Nailed the bokeh.






One Comment

  1. Alex B. Alex B. March 11, 2023

    Is it true?

    Is it really possible to sell?

    AI gen. content is usually free to find.

    There are many websites that offer free images for personal or commercial use. Here are some of the best options:

    Unsplash: Unsplash is one of the most popular websites for free images. It offers a wide range of high-quality photos, illustrations, and vectors that you can use for any purpose without attribution.

    Pexels: Pexels is another great source of free images. It has a vast collection of high-resolution images that you can use for personal and commercial projects. All images on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you can use them for free without attribution.

    Pixabay: Pixabay is another excellent website for free images. It has over 1.8 million high-quality images, videos, and illustrations that you can use for any purpose without attribution. All images on Pixabay are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license like in the stock network.

    Freepik: Freepik is a popular website for free vectors, PSDs, and icons. It has a vast collection of graphics that you can use for personal and commercial projects. While Freepik is free to use, you need to attribute the author if you use their resources.

    Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository that hosts millions of free images, videos, and sounds. Most of the files on Wikimedia Commons are licensed under Creative Commons licenses, which means you can use them for free without attribution.

    Burst: Burst is a website by Shopify that offers free stock photos. It has a vast collection of high-quality images that you can use for personal and commercial projects. While you don’t need to attribute the author, Shopify recommends that you do so.

    Reshot: Reshot is a website that offers handpicked free images. It has a collection of unique and diverse images that you can use for personal and commercial projects without attribution.

    These are some of the best websites to get free images from the internet. However, it’s essential to check the license agreement of each image to ensure you use it appropriately.

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