By Russell Brinkhurst, Partner, CooperBurnett LLP

It appears that talk of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come to the fore recently, with headlines predicting AI could eventually threaten civilisation as we know it. However, in the meantime, businesses are increasingly considering how AI can be used, perhaps, to produce content for clients for example.

It is possible to ask chatbots, such as ChatGPT, to write content for you; but what could be the legal implications of this?

Firstly, there is no guarantee that content generated by AI is unique; there could be considerable embarrassment and legal risk if content that was held out by you as original was not and was also given to other users of the chatbot. You might even find yourself in breach of a third party’s rights in the AI generated content, as that content could have been generated from existing copyrighted works.

Ownership of the intellectual property (IP) rights in the AI generated content could also be problematic, particularly if you agree to pass ownership of such rights to your clients. The question of ownership and authorship of AI-generated work is not fully settled by the law.

Furthermore, the terms of use of the chatbot might state that the owner of the chatbot software owns the rights in the content created. Add to these issues the question of data protection compliance, and the use of AI in this context which on the face of it seems straightforward, starts to pose important questions.

A pragmatic solution could be to obtain clients’ express consent to use AI on projects and ensure that the contract or terms governing your engagement deal with the unique issues that the use of AI raises.  Businesses should also review the user terms of the applicable chatbot, consider issues around data protection and review their own internal policies and procedures to make it clear to employees and contractors when AI can be used. However, it will remain the case that the use of AI will come with inherent legal and commercial risks and it is a question of mitigating those risks as best you can.

If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact Russell Brinkhurst on email: rjb@cooperburnett.com or tel: 01892 515022.