Getty Takes Aim at Adobe Firefly With its Latest AI Rejection

Getty Images already has a cantankerous reputation when it comes to AI imagery and its latest rejection only doubles down on this.

In 2022 the stock image giant announced that it would reject any submissions that were created through AI models.

It later also followed up on this with a lawsuit against AI platform Stable Diffusion in which it claimed that Stability AI, the company behind the Stable Diffusion image rendering AI, “unlawfully” scraped millions of images from Getty’s site.

Simulation of a Getty Image with warped logo suggestion, created by Stable Diffusion.

Now Getty is at it again with an attack on Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s powerful and widely popular suite of software tools for AI-powered enhancement of photos and other images. The company even sent an email to creators in which it specifically calls out Adobe.

The website PetaPixel obtained a copy of the email sent by Getty to creators who contribute their work to the site.

In the message to creatives, Getty underscores its hard stance against AI-generated works and then pulls out an even stricter stance by stating that AI features available through Adobe Firefly are also covered by Getty’s wider AI ban.

It’s worth noting that this coincides quite closely with the recent news that Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers now have Adobe Firefly available as part of their CC subscriptions through a pay-per-use credits model.

As Getty’s email explains,

“Getty Images does not accept files created using AI generative models. This includes Adobe’s recently announced Creative Cloud tools, which are now available with its Fireflypowered generative AI tools built in,”

Getty Images email on AI

Image credit: PetaPixel, Getty Images

The company adds that it will update users if this submission policy changes, though given its stance so far during the last couple of years, that seems rather doubtful.

Getty apparently sent this email as a general advance warning to a list of creators who submit work with the site, and not as a response to some specific incident.

We also don’t know exactly how Getty works to identify AI-generated or AI-augmented images. This could be through algorithms that check for telltale evidence of rendering or it might be through EXIF data analysis.

With images generated purely through AI platforms like Midjourney or DALL-E, visually noticing signs of their rendered nature is getting harder but still relatively easy for most of these machine creations.

With Adobe’s Firefly tools, however, the fusion of real photography with AI modification can be much harder to detect, even for a leading stock photo company like Getty.

Getty seems to be blanket banning the use of both for now.

On the other hand, Getty does state that 3D renders are still okay as obvious artificial creations made with human effort. It also allows digital editing tools from Adobe and others to be used.

The line between editing tools and those like Firefly can be blurry enough to worry some creators though given Getty’s strict policy.

Adobe Firefly’s most popular tools are Generative Fill and Generative Expand. Both are becoming extremely popular with many creators and do indeed do a remarkable job of blending real photographic elements with those created by the Adobe software.

A photo of a man standing on top of a sand dune.

An example of Adobe Firefly’s Generative Fill at work

For human eyes at least, it can be nearly impossible to tell the difference.

Getty is in effect building a fortified wall around its huge trove of photos and doing its best to keep them completely “real”.

It’s worth noting that Getty is also the owner of other sub-properties for online stock photos. iStock is one example and Getty’s wider policies presumably apply to these sub-brands as well.

Other stock image sites like Shutterstock aren’t nearly so leery of AI tools and AI-rendered images. In Shutterstock’s case, the company has even partnered with DALL-E to integrate its own AI-rendering platform.

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