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ChatGPT and the legal issues it raises

The world of Artificial Intelligence is growing. In the past years, this arena has witnessed the most significant and disruptive technological advancements, the latest being the introduction of the ChatGPT. AI can simulate human intelligence, which shows its potential in almost every industry. The past few years, have been rough for businesses, forcing them to align their development strategy in such way to accommodate technology. Other sectors even witnessed major layoffs, causing reduction in workforce, hence calling for methods which could reduce the burden on other employees. Along with this, there has also been major improvements in computing powers and algorithms, all together acting as a driving force in the growth of Artificial Intelligence.

In November 2022, OpenAI introduced the ChatGPT, a chatbot built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 family of large-language models, while also being finely-tuned with both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. In easier words, this chatbot can write virtually, literally anything. Among the tests which the bot went through, its responses have been 10x better than the chatbots provided by websites. ChatGPT can also carry conversations longer than a virtual assistant like Alexa. Unlike google searches which make us scroll through the SEO jungle, ChatGPT provides us with the specific result that we are looking for. The bot has also been trained on a massive dataset of human-generated text (mentioned as GPT3) from the internet, making it extremely capable. Until recently, ChatGPT was considered as an interesting introduction in the AI, however it has suddenly become a part of daily life. Among the various test runs this bot went through, several outcomes raised concerns with the users. With this, ChatGPT has also sparked debates on specific matters with major implications for the IT and technology sector. Below we have curated a list of few main issues that need to be considered while using the ChatGPT while also discussing how businesses can account to the risks posed by it.

Among the applications of this chatbot, almost every user around the globe found that ChatGPT can respond to questions posed by users. It can also perform the specific tasks as requested by the users, ranging from high-quality translations, writing a text, to generating complex text or writing computer programs. Users found that the quality of texts produced by this chatbot was extremely high, resulting in it being used to create computer programs, producing texts for marketing purposes and for social media posts. It also gained usage in creating a presentation or drawing up documentation. The content produced here was at such high speed, that users could also modify the generated content as per their requirements, for instance rewriting of texts using different style of expression.

In an article published by Lexology, a comprehensive source of reliable international legal updates, it was highlighted that the technology used in ChatGPT has a huge potential to become a commonplace tool used in commerce to perform tasks which could be performed only by humans in the past. As of now, a new version of ChatGPT has been announced, a model enhanced with GPT-4, implying that it will carry much larger amount of data and many more initial parameters.

Let us now move on to addressing the legal issues which ChatGPT raises.

1. Data privacy

For any content which this chatbot will generate, it will require some kind of data, which the bot shall ask by formulating appropriate questions. Here, we can expect two situations,

  • If the system is asked to produce a brief article on any general subject, then the questions it will propose to the user will not include data that needs to be protected or is subjected to special laws.

  • In second situation, if the user wants to curate some personal data, the bot will ask for specific content, in order to modify, expand or correct the data and content, and hence produce responses, all of which will include data that will need to be protected or subjected to special laws.

Hence, the two ways in which ChatGPT can be used, according to the range of information provided, will involve different risks for users.

When the user inputs data of any kind into this chatbot, they provide that data to be used by the tool provider, which is the OpenAI LLC. Under its terms and conditions, it has been clearly mentioned that the provider is authorised to use content processed within the tools provided to the user for the purpose of maintaining, developing, and upgrading its technology. This applies to the input data as well as the output data, i.e., the generated content. In such cases, it should also be taken into consideration that when inputting data constituting a business secret or any such information which is confidential into ChatGPT, the user discloses this to a third party for use for an indeterminate purpose, explicitly giving them permission to use it in the way. Therefore, all of this directs us towards the risk of our input to be used for producing a comparable business strategy for the competition. Additionally, if a business undertaking inputs confidential information relating to a client, it could be viewed by an unlimited number of persons on the side of the provider.

To sum up, we can say that using ChatGPT for business purposes to analyse input confidential information could constitute breach of data protected by law, thereby breaching contractual obligations.

2. Intellectual property issues

With increasing range of AI applications, the question of intellectual property rights also raises, and this applies equally to ChatGPT.

Amongst the top concerns are the possible infringement of third-party intellectual property rights when the system is “learning”, or when it is in the “launch period”. If we consider the aspect of machine learning, it has already witnessed several legal measures being taken, lawsuits against AI system providers. When these systems undergo training, they require analysis and processing of huge amounts of data, including data that constitutes works protected under copyright law in various jurisdictions. Here, the concern lies around the right of operators of system that “learn” to make use of databases that are in the public domain. Several objections which are raised regarding operators of system of this kind is web scraping, which implies to unlawfully obtaining and processing huge amount of available data in an automated manner, which is then used to produce content. Such practices infringe the rights of the original authors. To tackle this problem, governments of various states have already issued their framework, for instance the EU’s DSM Directive, under which, national legislatures are required to pass laws enabling third parties to reproduce databases or works in the meaning of copyright law for the purpose of machine learning. This applies to both academic and commercial use, while a rightholder can refuse to give consent with respect to commercial use.

3. Content produced by ChatGPT will not always be correct

Under the terms and conditions provided by the OpenAI, it has been clearly mentioned that the content generated by ChatGPT will not always be correct and true, and thereby also states that its liability is excluded as far as possible. We cannot fully rely on the content produced by ChatGPT, it will contain flaws, some of which can also harm the person asking the question. In such cases, it is important to understand that the end-user uses the system at their own risk and are themselves accountable, and it will not be possible to raise any claims against the provider.

This brings the question regarding ChatGPT’s safety into existence. As of now, we need to address whether the content generated by tools of such kind is protected by law, and on what grounds. In all reality, OpenAI’s chatbot has showcased its ability to public in every sphere, which gives us the explanation why many persons and institutions have already begun using it in their business activity.

Therefore, to avoid any such legal concern, it is essential to take into consideration a few rules,

  • Content which includes personal data, data constituting a business secret or which is confidential, privileged communication, and any data that may not be disclosed to third parties, should not be input into tools of this type. As a user, we should keep this in mind, always, that any content input into ChatGPT, could be disclosed or used by provider and affiliates.

  • The user data here, will be transferred to the third country, which is the United States. Moreover, the content produced here, may not always be correct, the same has been stated under the terms of ChatGPT too, hence there may be no grounds for a claim against the provider in this respect.

ChatGPT in practice - major legal issues - Lexology – reference




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