Did Adobe just make the boldest move yet in AI art?

A screenshot of AdobeFirefly generating a 3D image of a baby alpaca
Adobe Firefly in action (Image credit: Future)

Adobe's gearing up for the launch of the enterprise version of its generative AI tool, Adobe Firefly. And perhaps the biggest news isn't the technology itself but a bold pledge that it will be the first "commercially safe" AI image generator for companies. 

In what would be the first promise of its kind, Adobe says it will offer to cover any legal costs that business customers face as a result of using Adobe Firefly. That's how confident it is that the mode's training data wasn't stolen (to learn more about Adobe Firefly and other generative AI tools, see our pick of the best AI art generators and the best AI art tutorials).

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One of the biggest controversies around AI art generators such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion is how they were trained. They can generate such wide-ranging images from text prompts because they were trained on billions of images from the web without the permission of the artists who made them. Many big companies are holding off from using them because the legal terrain is unclear – the stock imagery giant Getty Images banned AI-generate content last year because it believes there are unresolved copyright issues and many other businesses fear they could be sued if they use AI-generated images.

Adobe's text-to-image AI model, Firefly, may be a little late to the party, but the San Jose-based creative tech giant reckons it's resolved that concern by training its AI model only on rights-free material available under Creative Commons licences and on content from its own image library, Adobe Stock. The latter contains everything from photography to vector graphics, giving Adobe the resources to be able to train an effective generative AI model without having to resort to scraping copyrighted images from the wider web.

It's so confident that this will make it immune to legal challenges that its promising users of the upcoming enterprise version of Firefly that it will pay their legal bills if they do end up getting sued for copyright infringement.

Speaking at the Adobe Summit EMEA 2023 last week, Claude Alexandre, VP of digital media, said the business version of the image generation tool will include “full indemnification for the content created" as "a proof point that we stand behind the commercial safety and readiness of these features.” 

The move could perhaps have been expected since this would extend Adobe's indemnification policy for its existing products, including Adobe Stock. But it's notable for being the first time a company has offered such a policy for AI-generated content amid a legal scenario that's still unclear, claiming that it's a "guarantee against the consequences of litigation".

The statement feels particularly bold when Adobe's yet to work out how it's going to compensate the creators of the stock imagery used to train Firefly. In a Firefly FAQ, Adobe says it is “developing a compensation model for Adobe Stock contributors" and that details would be outlined "when Firefly exits beta.”

Adobe hasn't revealed how much it's set aside to be able to cover the cost of any lawsuits that might arise. The offer only applies to enterprise customers, not the public beta version of Firefly, and some of the details aren't yet clear. The small print notes that the intellectual property indemnity applies to "content generated by certain Firefly-powered workflows," which suggests it won't cover everything that Firefly can do. Adobe also says that businesses have the "opportunity to obtain IP indemnity", which suggests that it won't come as a default, and could cost extra.

What is Adobe Firefly for enterprise?

Adobe Firefly for Enterprise is a version of its generative AI tools aimed at business teams. It's expected to be released in the second half of the year. It will provide text-to-image generative AI that can be used to generate and edit images, text and more. Many of the features appear to be similar to those available in the Adobe Firefly public beta, but Adobe says it plans to allow businesses to custom-train Firefly with their own branded assets and use APIs to increase automation, which would allow them to generate content in their own brand style.

Adobe says that hundreds of brands, including Dentsu, IBM and Mattel are already working with Adobe to explore how Firefly can be used to "drive efficiencies, reduce costs and accelerate their content supply chains".

David Wadhwani, president, digital media business at Adobe (speaking about the integration of Firefly in Photoshop above), said: “Enterprise leaders expect content demands will increase by five-fold over the next two years, making it imperative for them to drive efficiencies internally. This new enterprise offering empowers users of any skill level to instantly turn ideas into content with Firefly, while tapping into the power of Express and Creative Cloud to quickly modify assets and deliver standout designs.”

For more on Firefly, see the recent introduction of Adobe Firefly Generative Fill in Photoshop.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.