Mailbag Monday: What are the legal ramifications of using Generative AI?

Katie and Chris answer your marketing, data, and AI questions every Monday.


This week, Fred asked, “If you are inputting a blog post into ChatGPT to help with SEO or to help with classification (to help with discovering the most popular topics), what are the legal ramifications of using Generative AI?”


Mailbag Monday: What are the legal ramifications of using Generative AI?

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AI-generated transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:00
Welcome to another episode of mailbag Monday where Chris and I are answering all of your marketing, AI data, and legal questions today. So Chris today, Chris and I are not lawyers, by the way. Fred asked if you are inputting a blog post into ChatGPT to help with SEO, or to help with classification. What are the legal ramifications of using generative AI? So it sounds like this is a copyright slash ownership question.

Christopher Penn 0:35
So it’s tricky. And again, as Katie said, we are not lawyers, we cannot give legal advice. If you would like a lawyer, go check out my friend Ruth Carter. They have a law firm called Geek law firm, the law If you need actual legal advice from someone who’s qualified to give it now, in terms of the the questions, Fred is asking, if you’re concerned about that, there’s two different angles here. One is if you’re putting stuff into someone else’s system, read the Terms of Service because you are giving up some of your rights to that stuff, they will use that stuff like training their models, OpenAI says very clearly, when you when you create an account says we will be using your data. So there is that aspect. And if you add enough data, obviously, you are helping train the model to sound more like the content you are submitting to them, which will in time with enough people kind of remove a strategic advantage if you have a very unique way of writing because that gets added to the pile of and teaches the AI how to write like you. So that’s one aspect. For the second aspect, which is if you were using the content created by a service like ChatGPT, it depends on the form it takes as to what is the legal statuses the in the USA, the UK and now I believe the EU as well. content created by a machine is ineligible for copyright because it was not made by human Naruto vs Slater in 2018. That law case where the chimpanzee took a selfie, and you know, after a number of lawsuits, the court ruled the content was was not created by human copyright law only applies to humans. So if you are publishing content that a machine has made, that is ineligible for copyright, you may not cannot be copyrighted, it’s public domain, which means anyone can use it. If you are using machine to ideate. And then you the human do the writing, that content is protected by by COPPA because you human created even if a machine wrote the outline, because ideas can’t be copyrighted anyway. So the only the the actual output is was copyrighted. If in this case of using it to do keyword analysis for SEO, if you incorporate, like whole chunks of text from the machine into your your content, those chunks of text are not under copyright. And you can actually test this there’s a number of tools like zero GPT, where you can copy and paste text, it will say this whole paragraph here it looks like it was generated by machine. And you know, because of a scientifically technical perplexity. AI tools have linguistic patterns to how they write that are detectable by other machines. So those are kind of the major legal ramifications. It’s, it’s yes, you’re giving up some of your rights when you put stuff in machine. And what the machine puts out, you have no right to

Katie Robbert 3:36
I’m still stuck on someone taking a monkey to court. I mean, that what a what a time to be alive, Chris. But no, what I’m, you know, it’s interesting, because it’s, you know, it’s like any other piece of software use if you use social media, if you use, you know, portals with your medical professionals, if you use, you know, email, you know, Gmail, whatever service, you use, Yahoo, Hotmail, whatever. Those systems are collecting information on you. So ChatGPT is no different than any other system, even if you’re not putting in your first and last name and your date of birth and your favorite color or whatever, is still collecting information. And as Chris mentioned, look at the terms of service and decide whether or not you are comfortable sharing that information because these systems do not really give you the chance to opt out. Like it’s sort of an all or nothing right now, where you’re either using it and sharing your information, or you’re not using it at all. And if you’re not using it all, then that means that you likely either have the skill set to build your own, which is private, or you’re just not, you know, in the conversation about these tools. And so that’s really what it comes down to. And you know, to your point, Chris, you can’t copyright something in machine learning generated because the machine is generating it based on all kinds of bits and pieces. So think of it like a collage, you know, of found objects where you’re now here’s a rock, and here’s a stick. And here’s a leaf. And here’s a piece of yarn. Let me put them all on a piece of paper and call it art. Well, it’s not art, you know, it’s what my five year old did. But it’s all just like stuff that they mash together. And that’s in a very, very, very simplistic way. That’s what these systems are doing is they’re just mashing together found information.

Christopher Penn 5:32
Yeah, I mean, if you want to get slightly technical, they’re not even doing that they’re mashing together patterns they’ve seen and found information. So it’s abstracted. This is the heart of copyright cases about people saying, Hey, you scraped by my content, you don’t have the right to do that. And depending on where you live, the courts will disagree or agree. So in the EU, the EU says, models that use training data are violating copyright. In Japan, they they ruled the opposite direction, they said training data does not violate copyright, because the original work is not being replicated. So it depends on where you live. But to Fred’s question, those are the two major implications you’re giving information, unless you’re using either a premium tool of some kind where there’s an agreement that the company will not use your information, or you’re using a private tool, like the GPT-4 all desktop app with you when you the models that you download that tool, which by the way, we strongly encourage, if you are working with any kind of sensitive information, you should be using that tool because the data never leaves your laptop, which is important. That’s that’s the one side the other side is not the output. If a human has made it can be copyrighted, a machine has made it it cannot be. And if it’s a blend, only the portions that the human made are eligible for copyright. So from those major legal ramifications, there are others to know, for example, if you have it, generate content and you don’t QA it, and it says something stupid, you are responsible for what is on your blog. So even if a machine made it, you’re still responsible as the publisher of it. So those are some considerations to

Katie Robbert 7:11
make sense. Lots of lots of questions about copyright over the next few weeks. I mean, it’s you know, people have questions. They’re using these new systems. What does it mean? So, you know, stay tuned for more there.

Christopher Penn 7:25
Yep, stay tuned, we’ll talk to you next time. Thanks for watching today’s show. If you liked it, please hit the subscribe button and bell to be notified when we publish new shows. If you want to catch all our content, including back episodes, subscribe to our free inbox insights newsletter at trust Want to talk about what you’ve enjoyed? Join our free Slack community analytics for marketers at trust for marketers need help with your marketing data analytics or AI. Drop us a line at trust Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.

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