Report: Big Techs’ AI Legal Protections Do Not Apply to Use of Third-Party Models

AI regulation

The protections against artificial intelligence-related copyright lawsuits offered by cloud computing giants are somewhat limited.

That’s according to an analysis published Monday (Jan. 8) by the Financial Times, which examined the protection policies of Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

The three companies have invested heavily in generative AI, whose models are typically trained on data like images and text pulled from the internet, the report said. This has led to worries that the people who own the rights to the materials will sue third parties that train AI tools on copyrighted information.

While Microsoft, Amazon and Google have promised to defend business customers from suits, an analysis of the companies’ indemnity clauses showed that the legal protections only extend to the use of models developed by or with oversight from those firms, per the report.

“The indemnities are quite a smart bit of business … and make people think, ‘I can use this without worrying,’” Matthew Sag, professor of law at Emory University, said in the report.

However, Brenda Leong, a partner at Luminos Law, said in the report that it is “important for companies to understand that [the indemnities] are very narrowly focused and defined.”

The indemnities provided to customers do not apply to the use of third-party models, even if such tools are available on the cloud companies’ platforms, according to the report.

“People needed those assurances to buy because they were hyper-aware of [the legal] risk,” said one intellectual property attorney, per the report.

PYMNTS has contacted Amazon and Google for comment but has not received any replies. A spokesperson for Microsoft referred PYMNTS to a company blog post on its “Copilot Copyright Commitment.”

The analysis comes as generative AI has led to a reexamination of intellectual property (IP) laws.

“Crowd-based capitalism, closely related to the platform business model, has led to a decentralized creator economy, where AI-powered platforms segment users into communities of shared interest,” PYMNTS reported last month.

The report included comments from Arun Sundararajan, the Harold Price Professor of Entrepreneurship and Technology at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

He said recent advancements in generative AI have the potential to dramatically shift the status quo, although the direction of this change will depend on the regulation and policy surrounding IP. AI, Sundararajan said, has the potential to empower creators, while also raising ownership questions about AI models’ output.

For all PYMNTS AI coverage, subscribe to the daily AI Newsletter.