Adobe Called Out For Selling Ansel Adams-Style AI Work


Adobe found itself in hot water this weekend after the Ansel Adams estate publicly scolded the company for selling generative AI imitations of the late photographer’s work. On Friday, Adams’ estate posted a screenshot to Threads showing AI-generated images available on Adobe Stock that were labeled as “Ansel Adams-style,” telling Adobe it was “officially on our last nerve with this behavior.”

While Adobe permits AI-generated images to be hosted and sold on its stock image platform, users are required to hold the appropriate rights or ownership over the content they upload. Adobe Stock’s Contributor Terms specifically prohibits content “created using prompts containing other artist names, or created using prompts otherwise intended to copy another artist.”

Adobe responded to the callout, saying it had removed the offending content and had privately messaged the Adams estate to get in touch directly in the future. The Adams estate, however, said it had contacted Adobe directly multiple times since August 2023.

“Assuming you want to be taken seriously re: your purported commitment to ethical, responsible AI, while demonstrating respect for the creative community, we invite you to become proactive about complaints like ours, & to stop putting the onus on individual artists/artists’ estates to continuously police our IP on your platform, on your terms,” said the Adams estate on Threads. “It’s past time to stop wasting resources that don’t belong to you.”

Adobe Stock Vice President Matthew Smith previously told The Verge that the company generally moderates all “crowdsourced” Adobe Stock assets before they are made available to customers, employing a “variety” of methods that include “an experienced team of moderators who review submissions.” As of January 2024, Smith said the strongest action the company can take to enforce its platform rules is to block Adobe Stock users who violate them.

“We don’t have a problem with anyone taking inspiration from Ansel’s photography, but we strenuously object to the unauthorized use of his name to sell products of any kind”

“We don’t have a problem with anyone taking inspiration from Ansel’s photography,” said the Adams estate. “But we strenuously object to the unauthorized use of his name to sell products of any kind, including digital products, and this includes AI-generated output — regardless of whether his name has been used on the input side, or whether a given model has been trained on his work.”

Bassil Elkadi, Adobe’s Director of Communications and Public Relations, told The Verge that Adobe is “actively in touch with Ansel Adams on this matter,” and that “appropriate steps were taken given the user violated Stock terms.” The Adams estate has since thanked Adobe for removing the images, and said that it expects “it will stick this time.”



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