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ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence platforms appear to have taken the world by storm almost overnight.
With these exciting new capabilities, however, comes new questions and responsibilities. Some of the greatest minds out there are warning about the existential risks that come with this powerful technology.
But with these risks, also comes the opportunity for great rewards and new capabilities. There are so many uses for ChatGPT, and one incredibly powerful use will be its role in helping to write and edit new content.
The rise of generative artificial intelligence platforms brings with it novel questions regarding intellectual property rights such as:
- Who owns the content created by these generative artificial intelligence platforms?
- Can I be liable for copyright infringement if I use content generated from ChatGPT?
- Do I need to disclose if I used AI as part of my drafting or editing process?
- Is content created by ChatGPT subject to copyright protection?
- And more…
Before we dive into these complex questions, let’s knock out some of the basics.
First of all, what is ChatGPT?
What is a Copyright?
Before we dive into ownership of content created by generative artificial intelligence platforms and the unique legal questions that arise in this context, we want to give a “101” primer on the basics of copyright law.
Copyrights protect property rights fixed in any tangible medium of expression. It gives the holder the exclusive right to reproduce the work or adapt it into other derivative works. This typically means that the following can be protected by copyright: books, songs, movies, art, blog articles, and other similar works.
Understanding whether a piece of written content is copywritten is important for two reasons:
- If you are the owner of the copyright, then you will want to enforce your rights if you ever see anyone that has copied your materials.
- You also want to be careful that you are not ever infringing on someone else’s copyright. If you copy someone else’s work that is copywritten without their permission, then you can be in serious trouble with the law, including being liable for damages as well as the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend you in a lawsuit.
Generative AI Plus Copyrights – Novel Questions
Generative AI such as ChatGPT brings up two questions with respect to copyright protection.
First, who owns the content that is generated by ChatGPT? If you ask ChatGPT to write a blog post for you, then are you the owner of that content and can you seek copyright protection for it?
Second, if ChatGPT spits out content that violates someone else’s existing copyright, can you be in violation of copyright laws for copying the output you received from ChatGPT and using it as your own?
Both of these are very novel questions, and the courts have not had time to fully address these issues. We will look at each further in turn.
Who owns output generated from Chat GPT?
When it comes to copyright law, one of the first questions to address is who owns the output generated from Chat GPT or similar generative artificial intelligence software? Do you own it? Does the artificial intelligence platform own it? Do the underlying authors of the content that supplied the answer to the artificial intelligence platform own it?
Also, please note that although you own any “input,” the platform does not guarantee confidentiality with respect to any input you put into the platform. By making a disclosure of input, you are acknowledging that ChatGPT has the right to use any of that input to train its models, and it reserves the right to use your input in responses to future queries.
They also go on to state, “For example, you may provide input to a model such as “What color is the sky?” and receive output such as “The sky is blue.” Other users may also ask similar questions and receive the same response. Responses that are requested by and generated for other users are not considered your Content.”
So, in sum, according to the Chat GPT, you own the input (but lose its confidentiality), and you own the output (but it may not be unique to you).
What are Your Obligations to Disclose That Your Content was Derived from ChatGPT in Publications?
Open AI goes on to give an example of a disclosure that would be considered adequate. The following example is given as a sample disclosure: “The author generated this text in part with GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model. Upon generating draft language, the author reviewed, edited, and revised the language to their own liking and takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.”
Can you copyright output generated from Chat GPT?
If I use output generated from Chat GPT, am I protected from violating someone else’s copyright?
There have already been multiple lawsuits brought by creators against generative artificial intelligence platforms alleging copyright infringement. If you use the content that is generated by ChatGPT, then you could also be held liable for copyright infringement. These suits are still to be determined, and it is an open question under the law whether merely ingesting material that is subject to copyright in these generative artificial intelligence platforms is copyright infringement or could be considered fair use. Legal scholars believe that this issue will ultimately need to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
For now, it is safest to assume that you could be subject to copyright infringement for copying content that you receive from a generative artificial intelligence platform, such as ChatGPT so it would be advisable to only use content generated from ChatGPT for guidance but to make your own adaptions to the work.
In sum, the explosion of more common access to generative artificial intelligence platforms such as ChatGPT will likely change the state of the world as we know it. These powerful tools can be an incredible way to leverage information and build content for your business, including your blogs or other publications.
There are some important takeaways that you should remember if you rely on content that you generate from ChatGPT:
- Make proper disclosures if you are publishing content derived from ChatGPT. A sample disclosure that would comply with ChatGPT’s policies is provided above.
- Remember that your inputs into ChatGPT are not confidential and can be used by them to create new content for other users.
- You will not have the ability to get copyright protection for content you derive from ChatGPT except to the extent you have made your own original changes to that content, and then only with respect to your original aspects. Only humans can get copyright protection for their work.
- There is risk that content generated from ChatGPT infringes copyrights of others to the extent the content generated copied the works of others that was subject to copyright. If this is the case, you could be personally liable for copyright infringement if you use this content. This is still an open issue that will likely be weighed in on by the Supreme Court one day.
- ChatGPT is an important tool – but remember it does have inherent risks and should just be part of your overall content strategy.
For more legal tips and tricks, like content shared in this article about ChatGPT copyright concerns in this blog post, and a comprehensive (free!) legal guide, sign up for the Dotted Lines e-mail list here. And remember, using code TDE15 will get you 15% off any purchase!
For more information on ChatGPT copyright issues, consult with a legal professional.
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