Artists complain of AI 'copyright infringement' on Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock
An AI-generated image that appears when searching for 'Loish' on Adobe Stock (Image credit: Adobe/Future)

AI has proven an incredibly contentious topic in the world of art and design over the past couple of years, but one company had been particularly keen to emphasise its ethical approach to the tech. Adobe claims its Firefly AI model is only trained on Adobe Stock and commercially licensed imagery – but some artists are already accusing the brand of copyright infringement.

Several artists have observed that commercially available AI-generated imagery appears in Adobe Stock search results when their name is used as a prompt – even though they didn't create the art. And in some cases, the AI art appears to at least partially mimic the style of the artist. This has drawn the ire of several creatives on Twitter this week – and arguably isn't great optics for a brand so vocally committed to "doing the right thing" with AI.

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The controversy comes two months after artist Kelly McKernan complained on Twitter that their name was clearly being used as a tag to sell AI-generated art on Adobe Stock (above). Since then, Wetterschneider has posted multiple examples of artists' names producing results often in the hundreds. These include Beeple, Victo Ngai, Michael Whelan and Loish.

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"I'm against the use of my art in the databases used for generative AI," Loish told Creative Bloq. "I think so-called ethical AI stock images should not mimic the styles of artists who did not opt in to the use of their art in such a way. It's copyright infringement, in my eyes."

While it isn't clear whether the AI-generated artwork itself was trained on the artists' work, it seems the fact that their names are clearly linked to it – perhaps through tags or metadata – is enough for them to feel short-changed. As Wetterschneider puts it, "334 results for @Beeple - I don't know how he feels about charging $80 for art using his name as a selling point."

"Submitting content that infringes or violates the IP rights of any person or entity is strictly prohibited under the Adobe Stock legal terms," Adobe told Creative Bloq. "Our Submission Policies expressly prohibit the submission of generative AI content created using prompts referring to people, including artist names, without the legal right to do so. If content violates the legal terms, then Adobe promptly removes that content. Contributors who violate the legal terms are subject to their Stock account being suspended or terminated. Adobe takes this issue seriously, reviews and moderates submissions and will continue to remove content that is in violation of the legal terms."

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.