ChatGPT has taken the business world by storm, offering endless possibilities – and risks! A common question we get from clients is how copyright laws work with AI, and what issues this might present for your business.

More specifically, businesses have become concerned about whether the content produced by ChatGPT is protected by copyright. In other words, does AI own copyright in the work it generates, or is this owned by you?

The answer isn’t so simple, and as ChatGPT is a relatively new tool, so too are the laws surrounding it.

In this article, we’ll dissect copyright laws in the world of AI and how your business can protect itself.

Copyright Laws In Australia

Before we dive into the complex area of ChatGPT and copyright, let’s establish what copyright is all about.

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that provides you with an exclusive right to use that IP. It arises automatically for original pieces of work created by the human mind (which doesn’t include AI!).

Copyright can be a complex area of law as it also requires an analysis of certain criteria for copyright protection to apply to certain pieces of work, such as how “original” the work is.

However, the key takeaway here is that when you present an idea and express it in some material form that is original and unique, it becomes yours legally and you’re granted an automatic exclusive right to that IP under copyright laws in Australia (we’ve written more about copyright laws and AI here).

Where copyright doesn’t apply, you can look into other ways to protect your IP (we’ll cover this later!).

Copyright Issues With ChatGPT

Australian case law has ruled that an AI system cannot own intellectual property (IP) as it is not a natural person. This was discussed extensively in the case of Thaler v Commissioner Of Patents [2021] – we’ve written more about the case here.

So, when it comes to copyright, the general rule is that AI-generated content is not protected by copyright laws.

To learn more, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the terms set out by OpenAI.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use that content, though. You’re more than welcome to use this generated information for your business, but it just means that it won’t be protected by copyright (legally, at least).

Luckily, there are other ways you can protect your IP apart from copyright – we’ll cover this below.

How Can I Protect My Business From Risks In AI?

As a business, there are many ways you can protect your business from the risks associated with the commercial use of AI.

For instance, it’s wise to train your staff to follow the correct procedures when using AI-generated content. This may take the form of Workplace Policies where staff are required to disclose certain things to end-users when providing that content directly from ChatGPT.

Limitation Of Liability Clauses

If you’re using AI-generated content on your website or sending them to customers, you’ll be responsible for people’s reliance on that information. As such, you need to ensure that you limit your liability where possible.

The best way to do this is by inserting limitation of liability clauses into your key agreements. This will help you reduce any legal responsibility you might have if someone suffers a loss as a result of the information you provide.

It also helps to have any relevant disclaimers regarding liability and IP ownership. For instance, you may wish to clarify that the content provided is generated by ChatGPT and should not be construed as professional advice.

Trade Marks

In situations where copyright does not apply, you may wish to look into Trade Mark Registration instead.

Registering a trade mark with IP Australia means that it will be protected under the Trade Marks Act 1995. This provides additional legal protection and will prevent any other person or business from using your registered trade mark.

However, to successfully register a trade mark, you need to ensure that you satisfy the eligibility criteria, supply the correct information and follow the right process. At Sprintlaw, we offer a Trade Mark Headstart Package to help you hit the ground running – get in touch with our team to learn more.

Key Takeaways

Using ChatGPT can make things easier for your business, but the legal side of things can get tricky!

It doesn’t have to be, though. As long as you have the right legal documents and measures in place, you can still engage AI for your business and rest assured that your business is protected.

It’s best to get a lawyer’s help with your key documents to ensure you’ve covered all key grounds, particularly with something as new as ChatGPT. If you need assistance with your documents, or advice around your copyright or IP, our team of lawyers can help.

If you would like a consultation on your options going forward, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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