Shutterstock unveils TRUST, framework for ethical AI and customer protection

By Matic Broz, the editor-in-chief with 10+ years of experience with design, stock media and licensing, and photography.

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Shutterstock TRUST Framework ethical AI
Image: Shutterstock

Shutterstock, the leading global creative platform, has unveiled a new ethical AI framework called TRUST that aims to guide brands and agencies looking to integrate AI responsibly. With AI becoming more prevalent across industries, Shutterstock’s TRUST principles outline best practices for training AI systems ethically.

The TRUST acronym represents Shutterstock’s core values around AI: Training, Royalties, Uplift, Safeguards and Transparency. By formally outlining these commitments, Shutterstock hopes to promote responsible AI development at a time when the technology remains largely unregulated.

“Maintaining the trust of our contributors and customers is at our core, and our TRUST framework affirms the actions we take to support this commitment,” said Dr. Alessandra Sala, Senior Director of AI and Data Science at Shutterstock.

Shutterstock unveils TRUST its best in class approach for ethical AI
Shutterstock unveils TRUST, its best-in-class approach for ethical AI. Image: Shutterstock

A key component of TRUST is only training AI models on properly licensed data and requiring partners to do the same. Shutterstock has systems in place to ensure content rights are respected, including giving contributors the option to opt out of having their work used to train AI models.

The framework also focuses on providing fair compensation to artists through initiatives like the Contributor Fund, which has paid hundreds of thousands of creators for their role in training AI models. Elevating diverse and inclusive content is another priority to achieve broad representation.

"In an unregulated and rapidly evolving industry, this framework can also serve as an action-driven checklist for companies experimenting with AI technologies,"

To minimize risks, Shutterstock has safeguards to prevent inappropriate or harmful AI-generated content and provides indemnity for customers. The company is also transparent about indicating which assets are AI-generated versus human-created.

As a respected leader in licensing content, Shutterstock believes it has a duty to spearhead conversations around AI ethics. Its position provides perspective into the importance of creative rights and the impacts on artists.

By formalizing its approach to responsible AI, Shutterstock aims to build trust at a time when generative models create new intellectual property concerns. Its TRUST principles demonstrate that ethics and innovation can go hand-in-hand if stewardship is made a priority early on.

Shutterstock’s announcement sends a message that companies have a role to play in shaping the future of artificial intelligence responsibly. Its TRUST framework gives brands a roadmap to integrate AI ethically and could set an industry standard for others to follow. As AI permeates more of society, putting people first may be the wisest path forward.


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