You are currently viewing ChatGPT : impact, risks and legal questions regarding IP Law

Over the past few months, ChatGPT has been all over the headlines. Many questions arise concerning its impact on society and what it will bring in the future. Most importantly though, ChatGPT brings to light various intellectual property issues. 


What is ChatGPT ? 

Developed by OpenAI, a research organization founded by a group of entrepreneurs and researchers, including Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and Ily Sustekever, ChatGPT is a large language model that utilizes deep learning techniques to generate human-like text. Trained on a massive amount of text data, ChatGPT is used for language translation, question answering, text summarization, chatbots, language-based games and automated writing. The text that it generates is often indistinguishable from text written by humans, making it a very powerful tool. 


ChatGPT’s impact on society 

Capable of generating human-like text, ChatGPT can be used to create chatbots and other interactive language-based applications. It has the potential to revolutionize the Natural Language Processing (NLP) field by improving language understanding and generation in machines which can allow a more accurate and efficient language-based communication between humans and machines. 

ChatGPT impacts the field of education as well, capable of personalizing learning experiences for students. According to Victor Lee, an associate professor at Stanford University,  “if we want generative AI to meaningfully improve education, there is the obvious step we need to take of listening to the existing expertise in education — from educators, parents, students, and scholars who have spent years studying education — and using what we learn to find the most pertinent and valuable use cases for generative AI in a very complicated educational system.” ChatGPT can also be used in the field of creative writing, journalism, and content creation. 

Additionally, ChatGPT has an effect in the field of healthcare by helping in the analysis of large amounts of data and assisting in medical research, drug discovery, and diagnostic tool development.


ChatGPT’s risks 

Nevertheless, ChatGPT carries risks such as possible misuse, the creation of fake accounts and online impersonation of individuals.  ChatGPT can also become a tool utilized by hackers in order to “transform basic phishing schemes into more sophisticated, professional-looking attacks”( source : Checkpoint Research). In fact, according to Checkpoint Research, the “cybercriminal community has already shown significant interest and are jumping into this latest trend to generate malicious code”. 

A legal framework and proper regulation for ChatGPT is therefore essential. 


Intellectual Property (IP) issues 

ChatGPT raises a number of intellectual property (IP) law issues, including : 

    1. Copyright and Trademark Infringement : ChatGPT generates text from the data it is trained from, which can be similar or even identical to a copyrighted work and/or trademarks. 
    2. Misappropriation of Trade Secrets:  ChatGPT generates text that can include confidential information or business plans, which are unauthorized to be shared. 
    3. Right of Publicity: ChatGPT produces text that can potentially include the names of real people, risking a possible violation of their right to publicity. 
  • Patent Infringement : In the case where ChatGPT is being used to produce text for patent applications, there can be a potential patent infringement. 


Who owns the content created by ChatGPT ?

ChatGPT is protected by copyright law : its creators and owners (OpenAI) hold the rights to the code and the trained model, meaning that they possess the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute and create derivative works based on it. It is important to note that even though ChatGPT is protected by copyright, the underlying data used to train it, may not be.

Another important question is who exactly owns the content generated by ChatGPT : is the creator of the AI system (OpenAI), the person who commissioned the content, or the AI itself ? 
There is currently  no right answer to this question as the IP implications of AI generated content are uncharted territory. It will be up to the courts and lawmakers to establish how these matters are addressed. 


Can ChatGPT infringe on other peoples’ work ? 

Depending on how it is used, ChatGPT can in fact infringe on other peoples work. As mentioned above, ChatGPT is trained on an enormous amount of data. If this data derives from copyrighted work, such as a book or article, then the data generated by ChatGPT will be similar to this protected work and can potentially be considered copyright infringement. ChatGPT can also generate text that could be considered as trademark infringement, such as using a protected trade mark word in the generated text, or using it in a context that could be considered as an infringement.

Christiane CHIOTIS 

M2 Cyberjustice – Promotion 2022/2023 


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