Thousands of artists, including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, have been utilized to train AI software, Midjourney

With the advent of image-generating platforms like Midjourney, artists have been contemplating if AI represents a significant boon or a dire threat to their livelihoods. The situation intensified when a roster of 16,000 artists’ names was disclosed, suggesting that Midjourney may have utilized their artworks to train its AI. This list includes prominent figures such as Bridget Riley, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, Tracey Emin, David Hockney, and Anish Kapoor, prompting the art community to mobilize against the tech innovators.

A group of British artists is exploring legal options with American attorneys to potentially join a collective lawsuit against Midjourney and similar AI enterprises. Meanwhile, some have expressed to the Observer their intention to possibly initiate separate legal proceedings in the UK.

Tim Flach, the president of the Association of Photographers and a renowned photographer listed among those potentially affected, emphasized the importance of unity among artists, viewing the public disclosure of the list as a rallying point for collective action. He expressed his willingness to participate in such efforts.

This contentious list is part of Exhibit J in a legal action filed by ten American artists in California, targeting Midjourney, Stability AI, Runway AI, and DeviantArt. The implicated technology companies have been given a deadline of February 8 to address the allegations. Attempts to reach Midjourney for a statement have so far been met with silence.

Image: David Hockney