A robot painter.
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek / Midjourney

Midjourney is one of the most popular AI art generators, thanks to its ability to create both realistic-looking photos and regular art. However, free access is being shut off while the service deals with “extraordinary demand and trial abuse.”

David Holtz, Midjourney’s founder and CEO, announced in the service’s official Discord server that the ability to generate images for free is temporarily shut down. On March 28, he said, “Due to a combination of extraordinary demand and trial abuse we are temporarily disabling free trials until we have our next improvements to the system deployed.” One day later, he reported that free trials were enabled again “with new safeties for abuse but they didn’t seem to be sufficient.” Free access was then shut off again.

Midjourney has received attention in the past week for two sets of AI-generated images created with the tool that some believed were real, which were then shared widely across social media. One image depicted Pope Francis wearing a white puffer jacket, while the others (created by another person) depicted former President Donald Trump being arrested. The AI images of Trump were created around the time Trump claimed he would be arrested, which did not turn out to be true, but the expectation likely helped some people see the AI images as real when they were shared out of context.

Pope wearing a jacket
Pablo Xavier / Midjourney

It’s likely that news stories reporting on the images boosted demand in Midjourney, and some of the new users might have been trying to create similar images to the ones going viral. The company’s usage statistics aren’t public, but the Midjourney Twiter account did see a spike in followers over the weekend, according to SocialBlade. The company already has limits in place to prevent abuse (and banned the person who created the images of Trump), but the existing restrictions apparently aren’t enough.

Midjourney states that “there is no ETA for when we will be able to provide trials.” Paid access is still available, starting at $10 per month or $96 per year — if you’re going to spread misinformation with AI images, Midjourney would at least like you to be a paying customer.

Source: Discord (1, 2, 3), join Midjourney server for access
Via: Engadget

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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