Adobe sends users off on their commercial generative AI journey

But there are rules of the road to be followed and various directions one can take.

Karen Moltenbrey

Adobe has been planning its generative AI journey for quite some time. On September 13, the company lifted the beta restriction and rolled out the commercial releases of Adobe Express and Creative Cloud applications with natively integrated Firefly, as well as made available a new Firefly Web app. Adobe Firefly for Enterprise is also now generally available for businesses. In addition, Firefly-infused versions of Premiere Pro and After Effects went into beta. As users set out on their generative AI journeys, it would serve them well to familiarize themselves with Adobe’s generative AI road map and the various stops along the way. Among its generative AI news, Adobe has issued the first Firefly Contributor Bonus, instituted Content Credentials, and is introducing Generative Credits, a new credit-based model for generative AI across Creative Cloud offerings.

What do we think? Adobe has provided users with the necessary fuel for their generative AI journeys, but the company has also considered bigger-picture issues around generative AI usage. While a lot of this involves some uncharted territory, Adobe has prepared for it, kicking the tires, and checking the oil in an effort to make this trip as smooth as possible for everyone.

Adobe puts its generative AI plans into action

The DCC market is extremely large, and Adobe has been taking evolutionary steps to transform it by introducing AI into creators’ content creation workflows. Adobe’s journey into the generative AI realm appears to have been taken at a rather fast pace, releasing a family of creative generative AI models called Firefly, available through a variety of modules. That was announced in this past March, and in the handful of months following this, the company has brought the power of Firefly into Photoshop (with Generative Fill and Generative Expand), Illustrator (with Generative Recolor), and Express (Text to Image and Text Effects)—all in beta, until now. Adobe just rolled out Firefly as a stand-alone website offering as well, and as part of that, there is a premium offering, which will be in addition to the Firefly and Express Enterprise offerings available for purchase. (Firefly for Enterprise is now generally available for businesses and is available for access through Creative Cloud, Express, and Experience Cloud.)

At the same time, Adobe released the generative AI versions into general release, it announced generative-powered features for beta versions of its Premiere Pro and After Effects video products. They will go into general release later this fall.

Indeed, Adobe appears to be on the fast track with generative AI. However, the company obviously has been preparing for this for quite some time behind the scenes.

The subject of AI is particularly polarizing. Some embrace it—Adobe said Photoshop beta customers alone generated over 1 billion assets with Firefly-supported workflows. However, there are others out there who feel otherwise about AI in general—some creators and some non-creators. Among the complaints lodged against the use of generative AI in the creative realm is that artists are not fairly compensated when their work is part of the foundation set used in the machine-learning training process.

Adobe AI
Billions of assets have been created with Adobe Firefly during the beta introduction. (Source: Adobe)

Pertaining to this issue, Adobe is one step ahead of most companies. Adobe has reiterated it trains its generative AI models using hundreds of millions of Adobe Stock imagery, which are openly licensed and public domain content, making the Firefly content that’s being generated safe to use for commercial purposes. “We’ve taken great care to ensure that Firefly won’t generate content based on other people’s brands or IP,” said Paul Saccone, senior director of Pro Video marketing at Adobe, during a briefing back in April 2023.

In this regard, nothing has changed, with Adobe generative AI still trained on very unique datasets, with the resulting imagery designed to be commercially safe to use. This allays some of the concerns of Adobe generative AI product users now that the initial set of Creative Cloud apps is publicly available to all Creative Cloud users and the restriction for non-commercial use of any resulting Firefly-related work has been lifted.

When Firefly was initially announced, Adobe indicated there would be a Stock Contributor Bonus forthcoming as it pertained to the artist’s compensation, and true to its word, the company made the first payment on September 13.

Adobe notes that it was not required to make such a payment, as the Terms of Use allowed the company to use the Stock content for training. Nevertheless, Adobe is opting to pay all eligible contributors whose photos, vectors, and illustrations in Adobe’s standard and Premium Stock collections were used to train the company’s first commercial Firefly model. According to Adobe, the bonus varies for each contributor and is based on factors such as all-time total number of approved images and number of licenses generated in the last 12-month period. According to Adobe, the bonus will be paid once yearly, with the next Firefly bonus planned for 2024.

And now that Adobe has lifted the commercial restriction on the use of generative AI-produced images in the apps detailed above, generative AI credentials will automatically be applied to content created in Firefly Photoshop, Illustrator, and then, for forthcoming future functionality that’s powered by Firefly. This applies to any work that is created or edited with generative AI.

The credentials are described as tamper-evident metadata that is applied at export or download. Content Credentials are verifiable details that Adobe likens to a digital nutrition label, revealing information including an asset’s name, creation date, tools used for creation, any edits made, and so on. This data increases the transparency around the origin and history of the asset it is applied to, protecting not just the artists, but consumers as well. The Content Credential remains associated with content wherever it is used, published, or stored, enabling proper attribution and helping consumers make informed decisions about digital content, Adobe noted. 

The Content Credentials are powered by free, open-source technology from the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI).

Moreover, if a person would like to apply content credentials to non-generative AI work, they can do so, although that is not mandatory. However, a generative AI transparency Content Credential is automatically applied to work that was edited or created by generative AI, starting September 13.

Adobe also is pioneering something called Generative Credits, a new generative AI credit-based model, across all Creative Cloud subscription plans that provides access to priority processing of generative AI content through the Adobe Firefly website or within the apps. Taking effect now, Creative Cloud, Firefly, and Express paid plans include a monthly allocation of so-called fast Generative Credits. With Generative Credits, customers can turn a text-based prompt into image and vector creations in Photoshop, Illustrator, Express, and the Firefly Web application. Once the credits are used, subscribers can still generate content, albeit at slower speeds, or they can purchase additional credits.

Consumption of a credit is based on a mix of variables including the generative AI action that is taken and the computational cost of the generative AI feature used to perform the function.

Let creators’ generative AI journeys commence.