A spreadsheet containing the names of thousands of artists that have allegedly been used to train generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) software Midjourney has been submitted to a Californian court as part of an ongoing case against firms in the online art space.
The spreadsheet is taken from a 24-page document included as part of a November amendment to a class-action complaint against companies including Midjourney, Stability AI and DeviantArt that was first filed in January 2023.
The list includes the names of more than 4,700 artists whose works are said to have been ‘scraped’ to train the company’s tech, with thousands more listed under a ‘proposed additions’ tab.
These artists range from historically notable figures like Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, Norman Rockwell and others, to modern commercial illustrators, game artists and even a six-year old child who had an illustration published by trading card game Magic:The Gathering as part of a fundraiser for the Seattle Children’s Hospital in 2021.
The spreadsheet quickly spread across social media during the holiday period. One notable poster was Jon Lam, a senior storyboard artist at League of Legends-owner Riot Games, who posted screenshots from Discord where Midjourney developers, in his words, discuss “laundering” and creating a database from which they can train the software.
One of the messages reads: “All you have to do is just use those scraped datasets and then conveniently forget what you used to train the model. Boom legal problems solved forever.”
According to The Register, the lawsuit alleges that Midjourney chief exec David Holz collated the artists’ names into the Google Sheet so that the software could identify and mimic those artists’ specific styles when mentioned in prompts.
In the court documents, the lawyers state: “In other words, Holz published a list of artists who the Midjourney Image Product recognises with the express purpose of these names being used by users and licensees of the Midjourney Image Product as terms in prompts. Holz’s comment, and the list, have remained available ever since.”
National Technology News has reached out to Midjourney for comment.