Microsoft Offers Legal Protection for AI Users in Copyright Cases


Microsoft says it will provide some legal safeguards to customers using its AI. 

The tech giant announced last week the launch of its Copilot Copyright Commitment, designed to protect artificial intelligence (AI) customers worried about possible intellectual property (IP) infringement.

“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,” President Brad Smith wrote. 

Smith says this commitment goes beyond the company’s existing intellectual property indemnity support and builds on existing commitments. 

“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 the amount of 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,” said Smith.

The announcement comes nearly a month following a ruling from a federal judge that artwork created by AI can’t be copyrighted.

The ruling from the U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell was the result of a case in which the U.S. Copyright Office was sued by Stephen Thaler after the government refused to copyright one of Thaler’s AI-generated images.

Thaler had tried on a number of occasions to copyright the artwork and sued last year after the final rejection, arguing in the suit that the Copyright Office’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious … and not in accordance with the law.” 

But Howell said in her decision that copyrights have never been issued to a work that was “absent any guiding human hand,” adding that “human authorship is a bedrock requirement of copyright.”

This year has seen a number of other court cases involving AI, including lawsuits from groups of writers against OpenAI, accusing the company of training its ChatGPT AI with copyrighted works.