Amidst the early days of 2024, Midjourney AI, a prominent generative AI tool, faces legal turmoil due to its utilization of an extensive artist database, encompassing 16,000 individuals for model training. Initial copyright claims by artists Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz were dismissed by a California judge, citing non-registration with the US Copyright Office. Subsequent amendments revealed a leaked Google Sheet exposing the database’s substantial usage. Screenshots from early 2022, shared by Riot Games’ senior artist Jon Lam, unveil discussions among Midjourney employees, including CEO David Holz, contemplating strategies to “launder” the dataset and circumvent potential legal consequences.
The controversy centers on allegations that Midjourney AI’s system produces art indistinguishable from artists when their names prompt the AI. Leaked details encompass the creation of a database containing information on time periods, styles, genres, movements, mediums, techniques, and thousands of artists, employed for training the AI text-to-image generator. Furthermore, artists claim Midjourney employees, including the CEO, discussed evading legal troubles related to the dataset, hinting at potential misconduct.
As legal battles progress, amended claims highlight challenges in navigating the fine line between AI-driven creativity and potential copyright infringements. The case echoes broader industry concerns about ethically deploying AI in creative pursuits and its repercussions for individual artists. Kelly McKernan’s January 2023 statement emphasizes the genuine impact of AI-generated “art” on struggling human creators, underscoring the need for ethical considerations in AI’s role within the artistic realm.
- Midjourney developers caught discussing laundering, and creating a database of Artists (who have been dehumanized to styles) to train Midjourney off of.