Shutterstock expands legal protection for AI-created image use

7 Jul 2023

Image: © XaMaps/

The company is offering ‘full indemnification’ for its customers to protect them against potential legal claims around the use of generative AI images.

Shutterstock is seeking to tackle a key concern among generative AI users by offering legal protection for its enterprise customers.

The stock imagery company is offering “full indemnification” for its enterprise customers, which Shutterstock said will protect customers against potential claims related to the use of generative AI images created and licensed on the site.

Shutterstock said it will fulfil indemnification requests through human review to add an extra layer of protection for its customers.

John Lapham, Shutterstock general counsel, said the use of generative AI is at an “inflection point” as business professionals are seeking “more assurance around their rights to legally use AI-generated content”.

“We have always sought to manage risk for our customers and are uniquely positioned to bring a commercially viable image generator to market and indemnify its outputs, because of our relationship with artists and intimate understanding of the complexities of licensing,” Lapham said.

The stock photography company has been adopting generative AI technology since last year, when it expanded its partnership with ChatGPT creator OpenAI to incorporate text-to-image generator DALL-E 2 into its platform. Shutterstock introduced an AI image generator to its platform in January, which works by converting text prompts to images.

The company also launched a contributor fund last year, to create new revenue streams for artists whose works were used to train the AI image generator.

Online art communities have raised issues with the ethics of AI-generated images, with some banning these images from their sites.

Last September, Getty Images issued a ban on AI-generated images due to “open questions” around copyright and the data these AI models are trained on.

Concerns have also been raised about the “legal minefield” surrounding the use of AI-generated images for commercial purposes, JumpStory co-founder Jonathan Løw told last year. He warned that in some cases, the legal risk could fall on the end user if their commercially used images are included in copyright disputes.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic