VP of UK’s top generative AI firm resigns over ‘fair use’ controversy

Key Takeaways:

– Ed Newton-Rex, VP of audio at Stability AI, has resigned over the company’s use of copyrighted content
– The use of copyrighted material in training generative AI models is a controversial topic in the industry
– Stability AI argues that it is fair use and socially beneficial to train AI on copyrighted material without permission or payment
– Newton-Rex opposes this argument, citing the potential negative impact on the market for copyrighted works
– He also has moral concerns about companies using creators’ works to create new content without permission
– Newton-Rex still supports generative AI but emphasizes the importance of treating artists and creators fairly
– There may be others within generative AI companies who share his concerns and he hopes they will speak up
– TNW has reached out to both Stability AI and Newton-Rex for comment.

The Next Web:

An executive at one of generative AI’s leading companies has quit over the startup’s controversial use of copyrighted content.

Ed Newton-Rex had been VP of audio at Stability AI, which produces the popular image-generator Stability Diffusion, but resigned due to the firm’s treatment of creators.

“I’ve resigned from my role leading the Audio team at Stability AI, because I don’t agree with the company’s opinion that training generative AI models on copyrighted works is ‘fair use’,” Newton-Rex announced Wednesday on X.

The “fair use” argument has become a focal point in a pivotal legal battle for generative AI. Several companies in the sector have been sued for scraping copyrighted material from the net to train machine-learning models — without gaining permission from the creators and rights-holders.

In response, Stability AI has evoked the fair use doctrine. The use is fair, the UK-based startup claims, because it is an acceptable, transformative and socially beneficial use of the existing content. On this basis, the company wants training AI on copyrighted material to continue without permission or payment.

It’s an argument that’s frequently made by GenAI proponents — but one that Newton-Rex opposes.

His opposition has a legal footing. The former VP notes that fair use is partly determined by the effect on the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work. As GenAI models produce material that can compete with their training data, the justification for fair use appears murky.

In addition to the legal issues, Newton-Rex — who is also a composer — has a moral problem with the practice.

“Companies worth billions of dollars are, without permission, training generative AI models on creators’ works, which are then being used to create new content that in many cases can compete with the original works,” he said.

“I don’t see how this can be acceptable in a society that has set up the economics of the creative arts such that creators rely on copyright.”

Newton-Rex added that he still supports generative AI, but only when artists are treated fairly.

“I’m sure I’m not the only person inside these generative AI companies who doesn’t think the claim of ‘fair use’ is fair to creators. I hope others will speak up, either internally or in public, so that companies realise that exploiting creators can’t be the long-term solution in generative AI.”

TNW has contacted Stability AI and Newton-Rex for comment.


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AI Eclipse TLDR:

An executive at Stability AI, one of the leading companies in generative AI, has resigned due to the company’s controversial use of copyrighted content. Ed Newton-Rex, the former VP of audio at Stability AI, disagreed with the company’s opinion that training generative AI models on copyrighted works is considered fair use. The issue of fair use has become a focal point in the legal battle surrounding generative AI, as several companies have been sued for scraping copyrighted material without permission. Stability AI argues that training AI on copyrighted material is fair use because it is transformative and socially beneficial. However, Newton-Rex opposes this argument, stating that it has a negative effect on the potential market for the original works. He also has moral objections to the practice, as he believes it exploits creators and goes against the principles of copyright. Newton-Rex still supports generative AI but believes that artists should be treated fairly. He hopes that others within the industry will also speak up against the claim of fair use and advocate for better treatment of creators.