Midjourney V6 Updates Terms; Blames Users for Copyright Infringement

K. C. Sabreena Basheer 29 Dec, 2023 • 3 min read

Midjourney, a popular text-to-image generator, is facing significant criticism and backlash following the recent release of its V6 models. Users are expressing concerns over potential copyright infringement. They claim that the new update’s capabilities may be reproducing images too similar to copyrighted art. This controversy has led to a heated debate on social media about the ethical implications of AI image-generators like Midjourney. In response to this issue, Midjourney has updated its terms in V6, holding users responsible for any such unethical usage.

Also Read: MidJourney v6 Is Here to Revolutionize AI Image Generation

Users’ Claims and Artist’s Experience

Users were quick to notice issues with the V6 update, alleging that the generator’s output includes images strikingly similar to copyrighted material. Renowned concept artist Reid Southen, who has collaborated with major film studios like Marvel and DC, reported that certain prompts resulted in unaltered iterations of copyrighted training data. For instance, a prompt related to the “Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie, 2019” produced an almost identical still from the 2019 film “Joker.” Southen replicated similar results with characters from other blockbuster movies.

Midjourney V6 creates identical copies of copyrighted artwork

Midjourney’s response to Southen’s findings was controversial. Instead of addressing the concerns, the company reportedly banned him from its Discord platform, effectively restricting his access to the service, wiping his prompting history, and canceling his subscription.

AI Researcher’s Insights and Company’s Policy Changes

AI researcher Gary Marcus weighed in on Southen’s discoveries, suggesting that Midjourney might have trained its models on high-resolution copyright images, potentially without proper licenses. Marcus highlighted the ease with which copyrighted output was created and the lack of indication that the images were based on copyrighted work.

Midjourney blames users for creating art similar to copyrighted works.

Notably, a change in Midjourney’s Terms of Service was observed after the V6 update, explicitly warning users against violating intellectual property rights. The updated terms threatened legal action and permanent bans for users engaging in such violations. This shift in policy came in response to users, including Southen, exposing what they believed to be plagiarized content.

Social Media Backlash and Transparency Concerns

Amidst the controversy, Midjourney faced a wave of negative criticism on social media. Firstly, a ban was imposed on a user who raised copyright infringement concerns. That, coupled with sudden changes in the Terms of Service, has fueled debates on AI ethics and transparency. Users questioned the morality of AI image generators like Midjourney, along with other services such as Stable Diffusion.

The uproar on social media intensified as users expressed dissatisfaction with Midjourney’s handling of copyright infringement issues. It further emphasized the importance of transparency and fair use of AI technologies.

Also Read: Artists Develop Tools to Fight AI Copycats

The controversy surrounding Midjourney has sparked legal concerns. A lawsuit alleges that AI image-generating products, including Midjourney’s, serve as copyright-laundering devices. This lawsuit suggests that these products promise the benefits of art without adequately compensating artists.

Midjourney V6 faces copyright infringement issues

While the companies involved argue that their use of copyrighted art falls under fair use, the lawsuit questions this assertion. This is especially true when trademarks are involved. The U.S. Copyright Office’s ongoing study on the intersection of copyright law and generative AI further complicates the regulatory landscape for these companies.

Also Read: New York Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft Over Copyright Infringement

Our Say

Amid the V6 update controversy, AI companies like Midjourney must prioritize transparency, ethical use, and fair compensation for artists. Users and creators alike should be aware of the potential consequences of using AI tools that may inadvertently infringe on intellectual property rights. As technology evolves, a responsible and ethical approach to AI development becomes paramount to avoid legal disputes and uphold the rights of content creators.

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