Does Generative AI Breach Copyright Law?

2023 could well be remembered as the year when artificial intelligence (AI) came of age. Programs like ChatGPT and Bard are leading this so-called “AI Awakening,” rising from tech buzzwords to real game changers and solidifying their role as essential tools across numerous industries.


What is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a powerful tool that allows people to have conversations with computer programs as if they were talking to another person. Users type questions or commands, and the AI responds in a way that feels very human. The technology is designed to generate new content or data that is similar to, but not an exact copy of, existing data.


How is Generative AI Currently Making an Impact?

Banking and Finance: Generative AI is helping these companies provide 24-hour customer support, detect fraud, and analyze market data.

Health Care: This sector uses generative AI to complete administrative tasks, such as appointment scheduling, and facilitate communication between patients and providers who speak different languages. The technology can even assist doctors in diagnosing rare conditions by providing information from a comprehensive collection of medical databases.

Information Technology: Programmers often use generative AI for troubleshooting and debugging, code generation and optimization, and algorithm design. It can also improve the efficiency of software development processes.


Generative AI and Copyright Issues

While ChatGPT offers exciting functionality and valuable assistance to businesses, its extensive abilities are facing a host of legal challenges – one of the biggest being copyright infringement.

The New York Times, for example, is considering suing OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. According to NPR, they are worried the company may become “a direct competitor with the paper by creating text that answers questions based on the original reporting and writing of the paper’s staff.”

This concern is growing amongst publishers as big tech companies get involved. Microsoft, which has invested in OpenAI, added ChatGPT to its Bing search engine in February. This could mean that if someone searches online, they might see AI-generated content based on The Times’ work, which could reduce visits to the newspaper’s website.


How Generative AI Learns Its Tricks

To provide responses that sound like they were written by a human, AI chatbots are trained using content from websites, news articles, blogs, books, and more. And while they do not save this data (responses will never be a direct copy of existing content), there is a catch: this data collection often happens without explicit consent.

So, is this even legal? That is the question at the heart of a class-action lawsuit against Open AI from a group of authors, including comedian Sarah Silverman, who claim their work was used to train ChatGPT without permission.

The lawsuit raises important questions about the ethics of using copyrighted material to train AI systems and the possible need for more transparency in how such technology is developed and refined. It is a complex issue with no easy answers and without legal precedent.


Generative AI and Copyright’s Uncertain Future

The future of generative AI and its legal battles is unclear, given that this is uncharted territory. If OpenAI is found guilty on copyright grounds, the consequences could be severe. Under federal guidelines, penalties could require OpenAI to destroy its current dataset in addition to fines of up to $150,000 for each breach. This double whammy—reconstructing a dataset with only approved content and potential financial ruin—would likely spell disaster for the company.


Navigating Generative AI For Your Business

With the legal landscape of generative AI still being defined, what should businesses do? It’s important to stay informed about emerging legal cases and debates. While the dust settles on the complex web of copyright issues, one thing is clear: AI tools, in some form, are here to stay.

But, if you’re tempted to rely on AI for your content marketing strategy, think again. Shortcuts may seem easy, but they rarely produce the best results. To truly stand out, incorporate authentic, original content. Let AI be a sidekick to human creativity, not its replacement.

If you’re looking for guidance in the rapidly changing world of content creation and marketing, reach out to Baer Performance Marketing for a free consultation today or join the conversation on social media @baerpm.