2023 has been the breakout year for generative AI. Using a chat-like interface, marketers and designers can now generate life-like images and footage seemingly effortlessly. Even in these early stages of adoption, it’s clear that generative AI will disrupt the stock media industry – and the artists who create stock images, illustrations, and footage.
The rise of generative AI
Generative AI introduces a series of complex questions into the stock media market. How can such images be licensed for commercial use in a fair, effective, and legally sound manner? How can artists be fairly compensated for the work they produce with the technology? What protection do we have over the use of third–party generation input data? Answers to these questions will come through time as the industry adopts and integrates this technology going forward.
Some of our industry peers have embraced this new business opportunity and promote the generation of AI-based imagery through new collections, partnerships, and technologies. However the industry remains split on whether AI-based imagery can or should be included within stock media collections.
As of mid-2023, a number of stock media providers readily accept AI-based imagery within their collections, as long as the images are tagged as such. Additionally, some providers have launched online tools that generate AI-based imagery using images from their own collections as source training data. Industry trends point to AI-based imagery becoming simply another media type for stock media agencies to provide, regardless of the legal or ethical consequences.
At Stocksy, we do not accept imagery, illustrations, or footage generated by AI.
As an artist-owned cooperative, we put the interests and livelihoods of our members first. That means we focus on ethical business practices that seek to provide a sustainable and equitable model for creators. We support creative production that reflects the diversity, complexity, and leading trends in visual culture.
We also recognize the potential for digital platforms – such as Generative AI – to promote the same cycles of oppression as many other systems. AI-based imagery is only as good as the images it is trained on, which inherently increases the risk of mis-representing or under-representing diverse communities.
In an era marked by heightened awareness and demand for representation, equity, inclusion, and belonging, the accuracy and authenticity of visual content holds immense importance. Stock media should amplify true-to-life representation rather than promote stereotypical or homogenous views of society.
We believe only human curation and intentional diversity of representation – such as provided by our artists – can improve equitable and authentic representation in stock media.
We believe in artistry and human creativity as a means to create a better world through meaningful work. We believe in Artistry over generative AI.