OpenAI Introduces Copyright Shield: A Closer Look at the Indemnification Clause
Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, recently announced the introduction of Copyright Shield during his keynote at the OpenAI DevDay conference in San Francisco. This indemnification clause aims to address the copyright concerns associated with OpenAI’s ChatGPT Enterprise and API.
Altman’s statement, although attracting attention, is simply a standard practice in the competitive world of enterprise software. The term ‘Copyright Shield’ may suggest a technological solution similar to Google’s Content ID or Meta Rights Manager for copyright issues. However, in reality, Copyright Shield is an indemnification clause embedded within the software license agreement.
Indemnification clauses, like the one provided by OpenAI, defend users against legal claims related to copyright infringement resulting from using ChatGPT Enterprise or API. OpenAI takes responsibility for the defense and pays any damages associated with such claims. Although the concept is not new, the catchy name attached to it adds a fresh appeal.
Many enterprise technology license agreements include indemnification clauses to protect customers (licensees) from liability. For instance, clauses are commonly found that protect against data breaches or patent infringement lawsuits arising from the use of licensed software. In the case of generative AI technologies like ChatGPT, copyright infringement claims can arise due to the content generated by the system.
For example, if a bank utilizes ChatGPT to create content for its credit card marketing campaigns and faces a copyright infringement lawsuit, it can invoke the indemnification clause. OpenAI will handle the defense and cover any legal fees and damages incurred. However, the specific limits of the indemnification are undisclosed in OpenAI’s public statement.
The motivation behind OpenAI’s introduction of Copyright Shield is to attract developers in the competitive generative AI market. Large companies, including banks, often require indemnification clauses in their licensing agreements for enterprise technology. The absence of such protection may sway them from selecting a particular vendor. Additionally, OpenAI’s involvement in ongoing copyright lawsuits, along with the increasing litigation targeting generative AI companies, necessitates offering indemnification to stay competitive.
Currently, OpenAI provides indemnification for ChatGPT Enterprise, catering to large customers, and users of the ChatGPT API, which follows a pay-per-use pricing model. It is worth noting that the widely-used free version of ChatGPT does not include indemnification.
In a market where generative AI tools are in high demand, technology vendors must prioritize legal comfort for their customers. As the debate surrounding generative AI companies’ responsibilities regarding copyright violations continues, the need for indemnification clauses will remain. While addressing copyright concerns requires dedicated tools, the introduction of Copyright Shield is a step towards mitigating the risks associated with copyright infringement.