Artists pursuing legal action against generative artificial intelligence (AI) companies have faced a setback as a U.S. judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit, citing a lack of evidence.
In a ruling on October 30, California District Court Judge William Orrick declared the copyright infringement suit against generative AI image service Midjourney, art platform DeviantArt, and AI firm Stability AI as “defective in numerous respects,” granting the firms’ earlier motions for dismissal.
However, Judge Orrick permitted a copyright infringement claim from one member of the class action against Stability to proceed and gave the class 30 days to attempt to submit an amended suit with more evidence.
The lawsuit, initially filed in mid-January, alleged that Stability’s AI model, Stable Diffusion, had scraped billions of copyrighted images without permission, including those of the artists, for training the software. DeviantArt had also integrated Stable Diffusion on its platform, potentially copying millions of images from there without a license and violating its own terms of service, according to the suit.
Judge Orrick indicated that the AI-generated images likely do not infringe on the artists’ copyrights, as it is “not plausible” that they are derived from copyrighted images. He stated that he is “not convinced” unless the class can demonstrate that the generated images resemble the artists’ work.
Copyright claims from some class members were dismissed because their images were not registered with the Copyright Office, which is a requirement for initiating a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Similar copyright infringement allegations have played a central role in legal actions against AI companies, including the Author’s Guild’s class action against OpenAI, Universal Music Group’s lawsuit against Anthropic, and Getty Images’ lawsuits against Stability AI in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.