Nov 30 (Reuters) - A group of visual artists has filed an amended copyright lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney and other companies for allegedly misusing their work to train generative artificial intelligence systems.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick dismissed parts of the lawsuit last month but gave the original plaintiffs permission to pursue their claims again in a new complaint. Their amended lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, adds seven new artists to the proposed class action against Stability, Midjourney, DeviantArt and new defendant Runway AI, as well as more details on the alleged infringement.
Representatives for the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
Illustrators Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan and Karla Ortiz initially sued the companies in January, in one of the first of several lawsuits that have been filed by copyright owners against tech companies over the alleged use of their work in AI training.
Orrick found flaws with some of the artists' arguments, including that the companies' AI output infringes their copyrights, but he left intact their core claim that the AI training process violates their rights.
The plaintiffs reasserted their claims on Wednesday, now joined by artists H. Southworth, Grzegorz Rutkowski, Gregory Manchess, Gerald Brom, Jingna Zhang, Julia Kaye and Adam Ellis.
"Though Defendants like to describe their AI image products in lofty terms, the reality is grubbier and nastier," the artists said. "AI image products are primarily valued as copyright-laundering devices, promising customers the benefits of art without the costs of artists."
The visual artists said that the systems create art in their styles when their names are used as prompts, and that users have been creating works that are "indistinguishable" from theirs.
"Recently, plaintiff Kelly McKernan was astonished to find that the top internet search result for their name is now an AI-generated image made with Midjourney, prompted with Mx. McKernan's name," the complaint said. "Without intervention, this is the grim future that awaits many other artists."
The artists also added new claims that Midjourney violated their rights under federal trademark law by promoting a list of more than 4,700 artists' names, including some of theirs, to use as prompts with its system.
The case is Andersen v. Stability AI, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:23-cv-00201.