Microsoft has assured its AI Copilot users that the company will shoulder legal responsibilities if they face copyright infringement lawsuits. The move comes as concerns rise among content creators about the potential misuse of copyrighted material by generative AI products.
The rise of generative AI tools has ignited debates over copyright and ownership. Organizations often train their generative bots on data sourced from the internet, leading to concerns among creators about unauthorized use of their works. Several professionals have taken legal action against companies like OpenAI and Google, alleging unauthorized use of their work. However, these companies argue that their use of copyrighted content is “fair use”.
Addressing User Concerns
In a recent blog post, Microsoft's Vice Chair and President, Brad Smith, and Chief Legal Officer, Hossein Nowbar, unveil the “Copilot Copyright Commitment”. They state that if a third party sues a commercial customer for copyright infringement for using Microsoft's Copilots or the output they generate, Microsoft will defend the customer and cover any resulting adverse judgments or settlements, provided the customer adhered to the built-in guardrails and content filters.
Microsoft has chosen this path for several reasons. Firstly, the company has a history of defending its customers against patent claims related to its products. This new commitment extends that support to cover copyright claims related to its Copilots. Secondly, Microsoft recognizes the concerns of authors and believes it should be the one to address them. Lastly, Microsoft emphasizes the importance of the built-in guardrails in their Copilots, which are designed to reduce the likelihood of returning infringing content.
Conditions of the Commitment
While Microsoft extends its support, there are conditions attached. Customers are required to use the content filters and other safety systems built into the product. They must also avoid generating infringing materials and should not provide input to a Copilot service without the appropriate rights.
Microsoft's Forward-Looking Stance
Microsoft remains optimistic about the benefits of AI but is also aware of the associated risks, especially concerning the protection of creative works. The company is keen on collaborating with various stakeholders to ensure that AI promotes knowledge dissemination while safeguarding creators' rights.