Midjourney v6 reproduces copyright-protected film images

Occurred: December 2023

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Version 6 of image generator Midjourney was found to be closely reproducing high-resolution copyrighted original images that had been used for its training, prompting accusations of copyright abuse.

Midjourney users took to social media to share images showing scenes and individuals from films generated by prompts such as 'Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie, 2019, screens from movie, movie scene.' 

In many cases, the generated images appear to be slightly modified screenshots with minor variations such as hand gesture or camera angle, indicating Midjourney v6 had been trained repeatedly and intensively on the same data to maximise performance, in a process known as 'overtraining' or 'overfitting'. 

Midjourney later updated its terms of service so that the responsibility for potentially copyright-infringing images generated with the system is shifted to the generating user, resulting in further criticism.


Operator: Reid Southen
Developer: Midjourney
Country: USA
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Generate images
Technology: Text-to-image; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Copyright
Transparency: Governance