Microsoft tells its customers it will take legal responsibility if they are sued for copyright infringement while using the company’s AI Copilot services.
In a blog post about an initiative called Copilot Copyright Commitment, Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said the company would bear any potential legal risk as more copyright owners question how AI companies handle copyrighted works. Microsoft said the policy is an extension of its global AI customer commitments announced earlier this year.
Microsoft said it chose this path for three reasons: it wants to support its customers when they use its services; it understands the concerns of copyright owners; and it has built safeguards against the possibility of results infringing copyrighted material.
“If a third party sues a commercial customer for copyright infringement for using Microsoft’s Copilots or the results they generate, we will defend the customer and pay the amount of any adverse judgment or settlement resulting from the lawsuit, provided that the client used the content guardrail and filters,” Smith wrote.
Smith said one of the reasons for the partnership was to manage uncertainty around copyright law without driving people away from generative AI services. “It’s essential that authors maintain control of their rights under copyright law and get a good return on their creations,” Smith wrote, but “we need to ensure that the content necessary for training and grounding of AI models is not locked in the hands. of one or a few companies in a way that would stifle competition and innovation. Some companies have floated the idea of voluntary licenses and permissions as a way for AI projects to access data and not infringe intellectual property rights.
Microsoft launched a series of generative AI services under the Copilot brand that have since been integrated into many Microsoft products. Since GitHub Copilot in June 2022, which allows users to write code, Copilot is now available in Windows 11, Edge browser, Teams, Outlook and other enterprise offerings from Microsoft. It covers services like Bing Chat Enterprise, but as Microsoft’s blog post suggests, non-commercial users of services like the free, AI-powered Bing couldn’t turn to the company for a defense. legal.