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AI Tools and Resources

Introduction to generative AI concepts and tools

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the creators of "original works of authorship." Copyright grants creators/authors the ability to control the use of the work upon creation for the life of the author +70 years, and gives to authors certain exclusive rights:

  •      Make copies
  •      Distribute copies
  •      Prepare derivatives based on the original work
  •      Perform the work publicly
  •      Display the work publicly

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Can I Use Images and Text Generated by AI?

Your ability to use material generated by AI tools in projects, presentations and publications may be determined by the terms of use or terms and conditions of the GAI tool.  Material created by GAI tools do not currently receive copyright protections in the United States.   If the terms of use do not address further uses of material generated by the GAI tool, then you are free to use the material.

Some environments and publication arenas require full attribution for images and text that have been generated with AI.

Is Content Created by Generative AI Tools Copyrightable?

Currently, copyright protection is not granted to works created by Artificial Intelligence.  The U.S. Copyright Office has issued guidance that explains the requirement for human authorship to be granted copyright protection and provides information to creators working in tandem with AI tools on how to effectively and correctly registered their works.

Can Using Generative AI Infringe on Copyrighted Works?

Generative AI tools can be used to infringe on a copyright owner’s exclusive rights by producing  derivatives.  Before entering any copyrighted material into a generative AI tool as part of a prompt, permissions may need to be obtained.

Matthew Sag also pointed out another way that GAI tools can be used to infringe on copyright without the direct use of copyrighted material.  In what he has dubbed the ‘Snoopy Problem,’ copyrighted works, like fictional characters, can be ‘memorized’ and later generated by AI based on a user prompt.  In his 2024 “Response to Lee and Grimmelmann” he explains that “the Snoopy Problem is that the more abstractly a copyrighted work is protected, the more likely it is that a generative AI model will “copy” it.”

Is Generative AI Stealing from Creators?

Generative AI tools are trained on collections of material gathered from many places. Some AI image and text generation tools have been trained on material scraped from web pages without the consent or knowledge of the web page owners.

As of April 2024 several law suits have been brought against AI image and text generation platforms that have used visual and text content created or owned by others as training material.  These law suits claim that the use of artists’ or writers' content, without permissions, to train generative AI is an infringement of copyright.

While these cases are ongoing, we have no definitive answer on whether the training of AI models is considered an infringement of copyright.  However, several experts have pointed to previous fair use cases to justify a fair use argument for the use of various training data for AI image generation tools.