ChatGPT and Copyright: Legal Issues and Challenges with AI-Generated Content

Mansi Rathi, 5th-year, Institute of Law Nirma University

The talk of the town, the brain-child of OpenAI, yes you guessed it right, ChatGPT. The new buzz is built on the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) architecture, a deep learning model that creates text that resembles human speech via unsupervised learning. It can read and produce natural language fluently and precisely since it has been trained on a vast amount of text data. An assortment of linguistic activities, including translation, text summarization, text completion, text generation, text classification, and question answering, can be performed using ChatGPT. With the help of this chatbot, users can submit requests for output in human readable language and get responses on a range of topics, such as creating software code or structuring an essay. ChatGPT differs from previous chatbots in that it generates original, creative material, engages in conversation with users, recalls the interaction’s opening lines, and uses that information to inform its subsequent responses.


Protecting the rights of those who create original work through their intellect is the main objective of intellectual property law. By giving authors, composers, artists, and designers the exclusive right to commercially exploit their original works for a set amount of time, copyright laws specifically seek to foster creativity and protect the original works of creators from unauthorized duplication or exploitation. While identifying the owner or author of a human-made work is a simple task, challenges arise with regard to works produced by artificial intelligence (AI). Various countries may recognize the work generated by AI, however, are reluctant to grant the respective works the copyright protection.

The stances of various countries are discussed below:


The US Copyright Act, protects original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.[1] The US Copyright office for determining the copyrightable subject matter considers the whether the work was the creation of human author or not. And the negative answer to this question will be the ground to reuse the copyright [2]

Copyright is acknowledged as the rewards of intellectual labor that is founded on creative capacities of the mind. The United States Copyright Office has made it clear that only works produced by natural and legal person can be protected by copyrights and that it will not register claims for non-human-produced works.

The degree of human input required to produce a protectable innovation or work has come under scrutiny in a number of situations, including Dr. Stephen Thaler’s patent application for an invention generated by DABUS, an AI tool he developed, where the Federal Circuit determined that a person must be listed as the “inventor” in a patent application[3]. Moreover, in the infamous case of Naruto vs. Slater the US Copyright Office similarly determined that works wholly made by a non-human are not copyrightable when British photographer David Slater attempted to assert ownership of an image he put up but was captured by a monkey.[4]


The exclusive rights of the owner to do or authorize someone to do the certain acts (such as the reproduction, publication, adaptation, and translation of a work, among others) with respect to a work are referred to as “Copyright” under Section 14 of the Copyright Act of 1957[5]. Furthermore, according to Section 17 of the Act, the author of the work shall be the first owner of the copyright; [6]nevertheless, if the work is produced as part of a contract for consideration and at the employer’s request, the employer, in this case, is the owner of the work.

Furthermore, the Hon’ble courts have made it evident enough that only a natural person may be regarded as the author of a work that is protected by copyright in India. The Delhi High Court, where the issue at hand concerned whether the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) may assert copyright on a collection of exam questions, ruled that because the CBSE is an artificial person, it cannot claim copyright without demonstrating that it hired person to prepare the test questions.[7] The same was again restated, in a case, copyright was asserted over a computer-generated list, but the court rejected the claim on several grounds, including the absence of human intervention.[8]


The Court of Justice of the European Union has also ruled that copyright only applies to an author’s original intellectual works, meaning that for a work to be protected, it must contain elements of the author’s personality.[9] Given the significant human involvement in the creation of the AI algorithms and the training of the AI, it is questionable whether the work generated by the AI will ever be genuinely original. Giving copyright to works of AI that is founded on the creative contributions of others may appear illogical


In accordance with English copyright law, the person who makes the arrangements essential for the creation of a work is assumed to be the author in cases involving computer-generated works[10]. Such a clause can discern the human input needed to produce AI works, even if the final product is produced by a computer. However, because an AI system requires countless hours of coding and multiple individuals, it is challenging to pinpoint the real person accountable for works of AI.

As discussed the viewpoints of various countries, these instances illuminate the context in which ChatGPT will similarly be reviewed by the appropriate governmental agencies. The interpretation of local law may open up new opportunities for intellectual property protection in some jurisdictions, where recognition to AI generated works is granted, while limiting the protections available for AI creations in other jurisdictions, leading to a short-term divergence in the international patent and copyright regimes.


There is no problem with using ChatGPT for personal purposes as a conversational assistant. Conversely, the laws become a little hazy when using AI-generated writing in work meant for wider distribution. Though designed for human convenience ChatGPT has various legal impediments attached to it; few of them are discussed below:

Copyright Infringement: Its ability to violate intellectual property rights is one of ChatGPT’s key legal threats. A sizable amount of text data, such as books, papers, and other written materials, was used to train ChatGPT. The results produced from such datasets may violate previously published research thus these risks should also be taken into account. If the AI model were trained on copyrighted content, it would overuse another person’s creations while responding to users, which could give rise to infringement accusations.

Defamatory Statements: The possibility of ChatGPT producing offensive or libelous content is another legal risk. ChatGPT has the capacity to produce text that is reminiscent of human speech as a language model. However, it lacks the same capacity for comprehending the connotations or context of the words it generates. This implies that ChatGPT might create objectionable or libelous content, which might result in legal action against its users.

Contractual Breach: When using ChatGPT, there is a chance that more private information could be entered into the system due to the user’s access to a lengthy, freeform text box where they can copy and paste data and submit requests. Such use increases the possibility for people to simply and possibly unknowingly break contractual obligations when it comes to confidential information and/or trade secrets of a corporation, its clients, or others. Confidential information that a user may enter into ChatGPT is not protected by the OpenAI Terms of Use in any way.

Cyber Threats: With more convincing emails, cyber crimes and attacks would develop into more sophisticated ones. If the chatbot like ChatGPT is used to automate phishing attempts, email spoofing, email bombings etc, it would lead to a grave issue.


AI will play an increasingly significant part in all facets of our daily life. Its usage must be regulated by legislation. AI will continue to play a critical role in intellectual property rights, especially in copyright. The fight against Chat GPT’s legal components has just begun. People with expertise in their field, including writers, academic peers, security specialists, and illustrators, are expressing concerns. In essence, the introduction of such bots is for the “greater good” of humans. However, it appears that Chat GPT and other generative AI systems can only be put into use if a sufficient number of laws on AI have been passed, taking into account the legal, technical, and ethical considerations. This conundrum has left the countries perplexed who are vacillating between finding new avenues and being met with hurdles owing to the current legal framework. All the nation-states have been compelled to consider these questions of authorship and ownership of ChatGPT and other AI-generated works in copyright law and come up with an agreeable answer for all nations. It is the need of an hour to put the AI generated works above the works created by the machines, however, they should be provided less protection than the human creativity, only then the balance will be maintained.

[1] 17 U.S.C. § 102(a)

[2] 17 U.S.C. § 410(b)

[3] J 0008/20 (Designation of inventor/DABUS) of 21.12.2021,

[4] Naruto v. Slater,  888 F.3d 418 (9th Cir. 2018)

[5] Section 14, The Copyright Act (14 of 1957)

[6] Section 17, The Copyright Act (14 of 1957)

[7] Rupendra Kashyap v. Jiwan Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., 1994 IAD Delhi 1, 1994.

[8]Navigators Logistics Ltd. v. Kashif Qureshi & Ors, 254 (2018) DLT 307

[9] Infopaq International A/S v. Danske Dagbaldes, C-5/08

[10] Section 9(3) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988