Copyright infringement in the use of Artificial Intelligence

As the use of generative AI increases for businesses, so do users’ concerns over the potential intellectual property infringements in its outputs.

Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence that is designed to process prompts or questions from the user which it then responds to with new content, such as text, images or code. Well-known examples include ChatGPT, Google AI, and Bing Chat Enterprise.

One risk associated with the use of generative AI is copyright infringement. in that copyright works may be reproduced in the output content generated by an AI tool without proper permission to do so. Unknown to the end user, in using and distributing the work generated by the AI tool the user may be using copyright protected works, and therefore, exposing themselves to liability for copyright infringement. In turn, this becomes problematic when considering the commercial user, where businesses and employees may then use and distribute the copyright work in the course of business.

Copilot Copyright Commitment

To address this concern, effective from 1 October 2023, Microsoft is offering to defend and indemnify its customers from intellectual property infringement claims from third parties which arise from their customers’ use and distribution of the content generated by its AI tool, Copilot. This was published as part the ‘Copilot Copyright Commitment’, specifically for paid versions of Microsoft commercial Copilot services. This includes Microsoft 365 Copilot; which brings generative AI to the likes of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Microsoft is committed to defending and paying the amount of any adverse judgments or settlements against the customer. Of course, there are conditions, such as the customer must have used content filters and safety systems built into the product. This announcement continues Microsoft’s existing approach to emerging intellectual property issues, simply marking an extension of Microsoft’s already existing IP indemnity policies.

This development is significant, not only in assuring AI customers of their protection against claims, but also, in protecting an author’s right to control their works under copyright law in the context of generative AI with the content filters it has developed. It’s a commitment that seeks to manage the existing uncertainty of potential copyright infringement in the generative AI industry, without deterring people from using generative AI in the future. How the industry reacts to this development is yet to be seen.

Read more on Microsoft’s Copilot Copyright Commitment here: click here

Should you have any queries regarding the use of AI or the risks associated with it and/or any intellectual property related queries, please contact a member of the commercial team who will be happy to assist.

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