Can Using AI Car Photos Result in a Lawsuit?

Can Using AI Car Photos Result in a Lawsuit?

After yesterday’s post, I had to use the resources of Gemini to see what litigation and resources could be found on cases of misrepresentation of images with AI. 

Here’s what Google Gemini found. 

You’re right to be concerned about litigation regarding AI-edited car photos. While there aren’t widely publicized cases focused solely on AI editing, there have been lawsuits around misrepresenting vehicles online. Here’s some information to consider:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Deceptive Advertising: The FTC prohibits dealerships from using deceptive advertising practices, which includes misleading photos. Even if unintentional, AI edits that significantly alter a car’s condition could be considered deceptive. (https://www.ftc.gov/)
  • State Lemon Laws and Consumer Protection Laws: Many states have lemon laws protecting consumers who buy used vehicles with undisclosed problems. Additionally, most states have consumer protection laws against deceptive business practices. AI-edited photos that hide significant damage could violate these laws.

Here are some resources where you might find relevant cases (although they might not be exclusively about AI):

  • National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA): NACA keeps a record of consumer protection lawsuits, including those against car dealerships. You might be able to find relevant cases through their resources. (https://www.consumeradvocates.org/)
  • Legal Databases: Legal research databases like Westlaw or LexisNexis might have relevant case law. These resources are typically accessed through law libraries or legal subscriptions, but some public libraries might offer limited access.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Disclosure is Key: Even with AI, dealerships can protect themselves by clearly disclosing any editing done to photos. This could involve disclaimers like “car has minor scratches, not shown in photos” or highlighting any major repairs made.
  • Focus on Transparency: 360Booth’s emphasis on detailed, high-quality images with features like 360° views already promotes transparency. This can be further enhanced by using AI for tasks that don’t manipulate the car’s condition, like background removal.

By staying informed about legal developments and focusing on transparency in your photo processes, you can mitigate the risk of litigation while leveraging the efficiencies AI offers.

Will AI Replace Car Photography in the Future?

Will AI Replace Car Photography in the Future?

A rather aggressive dealer asked me a great question today. “Would AI or computervision replace a photo studio in the future?” I immediately told him it won’t happen because it will be adjusting the actual image of the vehicle itself. 

I took the question to Google’s Gemini, and here are the results. 

360Booth Strengths:

  • Consistency: Standardized lighting and guidance tools ensure consistent, high-quality product shots for every vehicle.
  • Transparency: 360° views and detailed images build trust with potential buyers by providing a comprehensive view of the car’s condition.

AI Imaging Potential:

AI imaging has the potential to revolutionize car photography, offering features like:

  • Background Removal and Object Replacement: AI can automatically remove unwanted elements from the background or replace them with virtual environments.
  • Image Enhancement: AI algorithms can enhance existing photos, adjusting lighting, color balance, and minor imperfections.
  • 3D Modeling: Advanced AI could potentially generate 3D models of vehicles from 2D images, allowing for interactive online car exploration.

While AI offers exciting possibilities, replacing photo studios entirely might not be realistic in the near future. Here’s why:

  • Manipulation vs. Enhancement: Legally, dealerships cannot manipulate images to misrepresent a car’s condition. AI-generated touch-ups on dents, scratches, or rust would be fraudulent.
  • Accuracy and Control: Current AI might struggle with complex lighting conditions, reflections, or unique car features. Studios provide controlled environments for capturing accurate details.
  • Human Expertise: A skilled photographer’s eye can capture specific angles and details that highlight a car’s best features.

The Future: Collaboration, Not Replacement

Instead of replacing photo studios, AI is more likely to become a collaborative tool. Studios can leverage AI for:

  • Automated Background Removal: Saving time on post-processing.
  • Image Consistency Checks: Ensuring every photo meets quality standards.
  • Virtual Staging: Creating different car settings for online listings.

Conclusion

The 360Booth offers a unique solution for efficient and high-quality car photography. While AI has the potential to further enhance the process, it likely won’t replace the need for controlled studio environments and the expertise of professional photographers. In the future, studios will likely embrace AI as a valuable tool to streamline workflows and create even more compelling car imagery.

How Important Are High-Quality Vehicle Photos?

How Important Are High-Quality Vehicle Photos?

Having high-quality, studio-like images of vehicles online is extremely important, especially considering that 90% of automotive consumers rely on images when shopping for vehicles online. Here’s why:

1. First Impressions: Online, the first interaction a customer has with a vehicle is through its images. High-quality photos can convey the condition, features, and appeal of a vehicle effectively.

2. Engagement: Professional images (not fake backgrounds) can increase visibility, engagement, and the click-through rate (CTR) for listings. Vehicles with better images have shown to generate more interest and inquiries. 

3. Perceived Value: Detailed and well-lit photos can enhance the perceived value of a vehicle, suggesting that it has been well-maintained and that the seller is reputable.

4. Efficiency: Quality images can answer many questions about the vehicle’s condition and features, reducing the need for back-and-forth communication and potentially speeding up the sales process.

5. Decision Making: For customers, high-quality images facilitate quicker decision-making by providing a clear and accurate representation of the vehicle’s color, pattern, style, shape, and quality.

In summary, investing in reliable professional photo studio to produce quality photography for online vehicle listings is crucial and can decisively influence buyer behavior. It’s a key aspect of adapting to the digital age where the visual presentation can make a significant difference in attracting and convincing potential buyers. 


Source: Conversation with Bing, 3/20/2024

(1) Importance of High-Quality Car Images for Online Sales. https://motorcut.com/importance-of-high-quality-car-images-for-online-sales/.

(2) Bing search. https://bing.com/search?q=importance+of+high-quality+images+for+online+vehicle+sales.

(3) How to Attract Automotive Consumers With High Quality Car Pictures. https://www.evoximages.com/resources/high-quality-car-pictures/.

(4) Zooming in on Sales: Best Car Photography to Boost Vehicle Merchandising. https://snorable.org/zooming-in-on-sales-best-car-photography-to-boost-vehicle-merchandising/.

(5) The Importance of Vehicle Photos for Car Dealers. https://maxdigital.com/blog/vehicle-photos-101/.

Sports car Corvette photographed from the rear in a 360Booth
Does Bad Car Photography Really Affect Sales?

Does Bad Car Photography Really Affect Sales?

Poor dealership photography can have negative consequences for your online car sales and customer satisfaction. Some of the possible effects are:

Lower visibility:

Search engines may reject or rank lower your photos if they are of poor quality, have overlays, or contain irrelevant text¹. This means fewer potential buyers will see your inventory online.

Lower interest:

Buyers want to see clear, detailed, and attractive photos of the cars they are considering. Poor photos may not capture their attention or showcase the features of the vehicle. This may reduce the number of leads and inquiries you receive.

Lower trust:

Poor photos may communicate that your dealership does not show great attention to detail and does not prioritize the customer experience. Buyers may question the credibility and professionalism of your dealership and the quality of your cars.

Lower conversion:

Poor photos may create a mismatch between the online and in-person experience of the car. Buyers may be disappointed or frustrated if the car does not look as good as they expected from the photos. This may lead to lower sales and customer retention.

To avoid these consequences, you should invest in high-quality dealership photography that represents your cars accurately and attractively. You could purchase a vehicle photo studio that uses optimal lighting and backgrounds, edit your photos moderately, and follow the best practices for online car shopping. This way, you can increase your online visibility, interest, trust, and conversion.

Interior of a sports car with yellow leather seats
Why Are Online Car Photos So BAD?

Why Are Online Car Photos So BAD?

As a frequent car buyer, you’ve astutely noticed the subpar quality of dealership photos when browsing online. It’s indeed surprising, and there are several reasons behind this phenomenon:

1. Lack of Attention to Detail:

Some dealership personnel may not prioritize photography as a crucial aspect of their online presence. They might rush through the process, resulting in poorly composed or unflattering images.

2. Resource Constraints:

Smaller dealerships, especially those without mandatory photo guidelines, might lack dedicated resources for professional photography. In such cases, they might rely on quick snapshots taken by salespeople or even use smartphone cameras.

3. Misguided Priorities:

Dealerships may focus more on other aspects of their business, such as sales, service, or customer interactions. Photography might take a back seat, leading to hasty and inadequate shots.

4. Underestimating the Impact:

Some dealerships underestimate the impact of high-quality photos on potential buyers. However, just like online dating profiles, first impressions matter. Buyers want to see clear, detailed images of the actual cars they’re considering.

5. Online vs. In-Person Experience:

Dealerships need to recognize that online car shopping is akin to online dating. Buyers form expectations based on the photos they see. If the actual vehicle doesn’t match those expectations, it can lead to disappointment.

Improving dealership photography is essential for attracting more leads and enhancing the customer experience.

Here are some tips to elevate your inventory photos:

  1. Hire a Professional:
    Consider hiring a full-time professional photographer or a part-time contractor. Someone with expertise can capture your cars in the best light, emphasizing their features.
  2. Moderate Editing:
    A touch of editing can enhance photos. Crop appropriately, adjust contrast (without altering the car color), and subtly add your dealership logo for branding.
  3. Optimal Lighting:
    Shoot in areas with good natural light. Avoid direct sunlight or dark shade. The sun should be behind you to minimize unattractive shadows.
  4. Neutral Backgrounds:
    Choose backgrounds that don’t distract from the car. Neutral settings allow the vehicle to take center stage.

Remember:

Quality photos convey credibility and encourage potential buyers to explore your inventory further. Just as you wouldn’t want misleading online dating photos, your dealership photography should represent the cars accurately and attractively.

Gray truck in a 360Booth with Al Hendrickson branding

Lights outside your 360Booth vehicle photo studio

Do your lights in your existing space or around the space or in your building need to be turned off during shooting photo in your 360Booth?

There are a couple of ways to handle that. First of all, we evaluate your space at no cost. While on site, we will make recommendations on what lights have to be turned off or removed. Usually, we focus strictly on lights above the cloth top. In some cases, you’ll only see that in other people’s booths or studios because they don’t have a cloth top to shield the lights reflecting on the top of the car.

So, to answer your questions, you don’t have to shut them all off. We don’t want you to do that. It’s a hazard with dim lights in working areas, for one, but the ones directly above the cylinder of the studio, yes. We would like those turned off. They’re not the right color temperature, and they will cause issues inside the studio.