Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Announces Copilot Copyright Commitment to Address IP Infringement Concerns

Microsoft Announces Copilot Copyright Commitment to Address IP Infringement Concerns

This item in japanese

Microsoft recently published the Copilot Copyright Commitment to address concerns about potential IP infringement claims from content produced by generative AI. Under this commitment, which covers various products, including GitHub Copilot, Microsoft will take responsibility for potential legal risks if a customer faces copyright challenges.

The commitment covers third-party IP claims based on copyright, patent, trademark, trade secrets. It covers the customer’s use and distribution of the output content generated by Microsoft Copilot services and requires the customer to use the content filters and other safety systems built into the product.

The Copilot Copyright Commitment extends the existing Microsoft IP indemnification coverage to the use of paid versions of Bing Chat Enterprise and commercial Copilot services, including Microsoft 365 Copilot and GitHub Copilot. According to the pledge, Microsoft will pay any legal damages if a third party sues a commercial customer for infringing their copyright by using those services.

Brad Smith, vice chair and president at Microsoft, and Hossein Nowbar, chief legal officer at Microsoft, explain:

If a third party sues a commercial customer for copyright infringement for using Microsoft’s Copilots or the output they generate, we will defend the customer and pay the amount of any adverse judgments or settlements that result from the lawsuit, as long as the customer used the guardrails and content filters we have built into our products.

As reported previously on InfoQ, last year Microsoft was hit with a class-action lawsuit challenging the legal­ity of GitHub Copi­lot and the related OpenAI Codex. Smith and Nowbar highlight the boundaries of the commitment:

There are important conditions to this program, recognizing that there are potential ways that our technology could intentionally be misused to generate harmful content. To protect against this, customers must use the content filters and other safety systems built into the product and must not attempt to generate infringing materials, including not providing input to a Copilot service that the customer does not have appropriate rights to use.

In the "Why Microsoft’s Copilot Copyright Commitment may not mean much for customers (yet)" article, Michael Cherry, senior analyst at Directions on Microsoft, warns:

Many times a person will not understand they don’t have a right to use some content—particularly under exceptions to copyright which are hard to interpret such as the concept of 'fair use,' of a small amount of material.

Reddit user cauldrath comments:

This is another way demands for opt-in models favor corporations over open source. Microsoft can offer its paying customers protection from lawsuits because they have the legal infrastructure in place already and can use the money from sales to fund it.

The Copilot Copyright Commitment will be effective starting October 1st, will not extend to any Copilot-free products and will not require contractual changes or actions from the customers.


About the Author

Rate this Article