Stability AI Exec Quits in Disgust Over Using Copyrighted Works to Train AI

Instability AI

In an editorial, an executive at the prominent AI startup Stability AI — the maker of the popular image generator Stable Diffusion — announced that he was resigning from his ranking position based on principle.

Writing for Music Business Worldwide, Stability's outgoing vice president of audio Ed Newton-Rex said that although he's enjoyed his time at the generative AI firm, a major difference in opinion ultimately pushed him to quit.

"I don’t agree with the company’s opinion that training generative AI models on copyrighted works is 'fair use,'" Newton-Rex wrote.

Unlike some AI detractors who despise the technology wholesale, the now-resigned audio czar's criticisms are coming from an industry insider's perspective. As MBW explains in Newton-Rex's bio, the Cambridge-educated expert's creation of the Jukedeck AI composer software back in 2012 made him an early pioneer in generative AI.

Jukedeck, which Newton-Rex ended up selling to TikTok and subsequently working at the Chinese-owned social network, only used royalty-free music, which makes it no surprise that the British entrepreneur is so against what his most recent employer has been doing with other people's work.

Unfair Use

Stability, which in recent months has experienced a bevy of issues relating to money and talent, consider any copyrighted work to be "fair use," or acceptable for AI training models to use regardless of whether the artists consent or not — and as Newton-Rex, an artist himself, puts it, that's just plain wrong.

"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 wrote. "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."

At the end of the day, Newton-Rex's issue is less with the tech and more with the unfair ways companies are twisting the "fair use" standard, which he admits "wasn’t designed with generative AI in mind."

"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," the AI expert wrote. "I hope others will speak up, either internally or in public, so that companies [realize] that exploiting creators can’t be the long-term solution in generative AI."

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