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Using AI: Knowing Your Responsibilities and Negating Copyright Infringement
Posted On February 13, 2024
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming popular in many industries, and although the technology is not completely developed, it is presenting challenges for its users. For instance, there are legal ramifications to be considered when using this technology. “In the U.S., the two main legal systems for regulating the type of work generated by AI are copyrights and patents,” Dylan Walsh writes in “The Legal Issues Presented by Generative AI.” Applying copyright law to a single piece of work involves determining who created the idea originally. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, works may be copyrighted if AI was partly used in their creation. Works wholly created by AI are not protectable. So, the real questions to be asked are how much AI was used to create a work versus how much was human intervention, and how does one go about determining if a work was wholly generated by AI in the first place?


Several tools are available to help people decide if written content was created by AI or by a human being. GPTZero, Copyleaks, and ZeroGPT are all examples of AI writing detectors. Combining AI detection with a plagiarism-checker tool allows the user of AI technology to double-check the origins of written content, writes Justin Gluska in “How to Check If Something Was Written With AI (ChatGPT).”

The use of AI isn’t wrong and shouldn’t be frowned upon. AI can’t do your work for you, though—sorry! The idea of being able to use AI to create content is somewhat brilliant but can be so damaging if the work is not double-checked for accuracy and to see whether its results are based on proven facts. Since we know that AI uses prediction and patterns, we as content creators must do our due diligence to ensure that the content we create is correct. 

Certain elements of writing simply can’t be replicated by AI. Think about this for a moment. If AI is based on patterns and predictions, where is the creativity, the language of a human being who’s lived life, or the simple nuances that writers tend to include when creating? When I read an article, I want to feel engaged and interested in the author’s point of view, despite my own opinions on the subject. I want to feel as though I have learned something from the author, even if I disagree with the content. I don’t always read with the expectation of being engaged in this way, but I definitely don’t want to read content that could be inaccurate due to the author’s negligent use of AI.


Copyright is another complicated issue when applied to AI. In the simplest terms, copyright law protects the original creators of all kinds of works from having their original ideas stolen or illegally borrowed by another individual. When someone steals an idea or a completed work from another, they are infringing on copyright. In a way, copyright law encourages individual thinking and creativity.

Issues such as infringement, rights of use, uncertainty about ownership of AI-generated works, questions about unlicensed content, and whether users should be able to prompt AI tools with direct reference to other creators’ copyrighted and trademarked works without their permission can pose major consequences for those who use generative AI.

For example, in 2023, image-licensing service Getty filed a lawsuit against the creators of Stable Diffusion, claiming improper use of its photos, thus violating the copyright and trademark rights it has in its watermarked photograph collection. The outcomes of cases like this often depend on the interpretation of the Fair Use doctrine, which allows for limited use of copyrighted material without needing permission from the copyright holder if said usage falls under certain categories, such as criticism and/or commentary, news reporting, teaching, or research, as explained in the Harvard Business Publishing Education article, “Generative AI Has an Intellectual Property Problem” (purchase required). Here are three pointers gleaned from that article to help content creators steer clear of copyright infringement:

  • First, you may want to refrain from using popular online AI-generated tools altogether. You are a writer—do not be afraid to share your thoughts and views. Write what you know rather than using AI content you got online. That’s not very creative.
  • Second, if you desire to use AI tools, you may want to secure a license or a warranty from the provider of the generative AI tool, thus ensuring that source works are properly licensed.
  • Third, you can always use a source code audit program to analyze the code created using generative AI tools to determine whether it is similar to any other code or open source option.

It’s better to be safe than sorry! I encourage you to go ahead and explore AI. I think it is quite fascinating, but it is important to remember that the technology is still developing. Double-check your source information to avoid looking like a fool, and don’t rely entirely on your use of generative AI when writing.

Amber Boedigheimer is the librarian for the Linn County Law Library in Albany, Oregon. It is a very small law library, serving about 600 patrons a year, and it is open to the public 4 days a week to provide legal information to patrons, including lawyers. The missions and goals of the library are to promote accessibility, ensure fairness within the justice system, and improve patron access to legal information. The library has a plethora of legal resources and offers patrons access to subscription databases, bar books, and other legal materials. Boedigheimer is a member of OCCLL (Oregon County Council of Law Libraries) and WestPac (Western Pacific Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries).

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