The Ethics Of Generative AI: How Shutterstock Is Employing TRUST

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Shutterstock, a global creative platform connecting brands and businesses to quality content, has announced TRUST. This official guiding framework embodies Shutterstock’s long-standing values and commitment to using AI responsibly in its products and workflows. 

At an event on the top floor of the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Sydney on Wednesday, Shutterstock showcased the capabilities of its generative AI technologies while highlighting the essential ethical considerations behind using these kinds of tools. 


TRUST, an acronym for Training, Royalties, Uplift, Safeguards and Transparency, reflects the core commitments that Shutterstock has actively upheld over the last two decades. In an unregulated and rapidly evolving industry, this framework can also serve as an action-driven checklist for companies experimenting with AI technologies and reiterates Shutterstock’s lifelong, contributor-centric operating principles. 

  • T – Training: Shutterstock is focused on ensuring that everything they train on is ethically sound and those responsible are being compensated for it.  
  • R – Royalties: We launched the first-of-its-kind Contributor Fund, which is a mechanism to compensate artists for leveraging their content in training our generative technology. .
  • U – Uplift: Working to uplift and promote representation, Shutterstock aims to create content that reflects the world. “If you ask AI to generate an image of a CEO at a company, what does it do? Typically, it would generate a white, middle-aged man in an office. Well, what we’ve tried to do is add diversity, enriching the prompt to add more diverse options. That’s important since we don’t want to end up in the same old silo, where we’re just regurgitating the same old biases over and over,” Dade Orgeron said.
  • S – Safeguards: We safeguard the protection we provide to our customers by implementing a multi-layered content control which ensures
    • One, ethical compliance through a safety mechanism that controls attempts to create content that displays adult themes, offensive content, or violence and block it.
    • Two, legal integrity by providing licensing protections including protection against AI training liability on all licenses of AI-generated content.
    • And three, brand safety for our customers by offering the same protections for AI-generated content as traditional stock assets. Our Asset Assurance underlines our commitment to the safety and integrity of our content.
  • T – Transparency: Content provenance and explicit disclosure of AI-generated content are the ultimate elements for a truly transparent process. We commit to certify content to explicitly distinguish between AI-generated and human-created content to help our customers to distinguish against deepfakes, disinformation or other forms of misuse. We uphold content authenticity and integrity with our support of the Content Authenticity Initiative and will soon label all AI-generated content according to the industry standards.

With these considerations in mind, Shutterstock encourages creatives to dive into the new world of generative AI. “Be mindful, but don’t be afraid to utilise generative AI. Understand that there are organisations like ourselves, that are working hard to build responsible and ethically sound solutions for generative AI. And you can do the same. You can embrace these new technologies and utilise them in all kinds of new and exciting ways, by aligning with partners who are as committed to ethical progress as they are to artistic and technical excellence,” said Dade Orgeron, vice president of 3D innovation at Shutterstock.

“Begin to prepare now for the emerging technologies that are coming. The future of digital interaction, storytelling, and e-commerce lies in these technologies, and this future is not just accessible; it’s vividly three-dimensional, deeply engaging, and boundlessly creative,” Orgeron said. 

Shuttershock is redefining content creation through the development of  Gen AI solutions for their users. It was the first company in its industry to release a safe and easy-to-use AI image generator, which allows users to generate new and unique images using simple prompts. “With it, users can feed a description into the image generator, and within seconds, have a bespoke image tailored to their campaign. But that’s only the beginning… Just last week, we announced a new suite of AI-powered tools that take traditional stock imagery to the next level,” said Orgeron.

New AI  capabilities recently added to the Shutterstock AI suite include:

  • Magic Brush: Magically modify an image by brushing over the areas you’d like to change and describing what you want to add, replace or erase.
  • Variations: Generate alternate options of any stock or AI-generated image.
  • Expand Image: Broaden the view of any image, as easily as if zooming out through a camera lens, to see more of the scene behind the central image.
  • Smart Resize: Automatically change the shape of your image to match the dimensions you need.
  • Background Remover: Remove or replace the background with any scene when the subject of an image is perfect but the background is not.
  • AI Image Generator: Launched in beta earlier this year and soon to be updated with the latest version of Dall-E, this tool allows anyone to create high-quality, ethically sourced visuals in seconds (ready for licensing and indemnifiable for commercial use) by simply describing what they are looking for.

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