The rapid growth of generative AI (GAI) has taken the world by storm. The uses of GAI are many as are the legal issues. If your employees are using GAI, they may be subjecting your company to many unwanted and potentially unnecessary legal issues. Some companies are just saying no to employee use of AI. That is reminiscent of how some companies “managed” open source software use by employees years ago. Banning use of valuable technology is a “safer” approach, but prevents a company from obtaining the many benefits of that technology. For many of the GAI-related legal issues, there are ways to manage the legal risks by developing a thoughtful policy on employee use of GAI.
A growing number of responsible providers of AI tools are indemnifying users. One of the most recent announcements comes from Microsoft. The announcement notes:
- Some customers are concerned about the risk of IP infringement claims if they use the output produced by generative AI. This is understandable, given recent public inquiries by authors and artists regarding how their own work is being used with AI models and services.
- To address this customer concern, Microsoft is announcing its Copilot Copyright Commitment. As customers ask whether they can use Microsoft’s Copilot services and the output they generate without worrying about copyright claims, we are providing a straightforward answer: yes, you can, and if you are challenged on copyright grounds, we will assume responsibility for the potential legal risks involved.
- Specifically, if a third party sues a commercial customer for copyright infringement for using Microsoft’s Copilots or the output they generate, we will defend the customer and pay any adverse judgments or settlements that result from the lawsuit, as long as the customer used the guardrails and content filters we have built into our products.
- Does the user retain exclusive ownership of its inputs or does the tool provider get a license to use?
- Does the user obtain exclusive ownership of the output?
- Some TOUs prohibit the use of GAI output for commercial purposes
These are just some issues that companies need to consider in developing a company policy on employee use of AI. For more information on these topics it is helpful for companies to receive an in-depth presentation on why you need GAI policies and what they should include.