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Jonathan P. Mollod is an attorney and content editor and a part of the firm’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Group. Jonathan earned his J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School. He focuses on issues involving technology, media, intellectual property and licensing issues and general online/tech law issues of the day.

Generative AI has been most synonymous in the public mind with “AI” since the commercial breakout of ChatGPT in November 2022. Consumers and businesses have seen the fruits of impressive innovation in various generative models’ ability to create audio, video, images and text, analyze and transform data, perform Q&A chatbot

Last week, OpenAI rolled out ChatGPT Team, a flexible subscription structure for small-to-medium sized businesses (with two or more users) that are not large enough to warrant the expense of a ChatGPT Enterprise subscription (which requires a minimum of 150 licensed users).  Despite being less expensive than its Enterprise counterpart, ChatGPT Team provides for the use of the latest OpenAI models with the robust privacy, security and confidentiality protections that previously only applied to the ChatGPT Enterprise subscription and which are far more protective than the terms that govern ordinary personal accounts. This development could be the proverbial “game changer” for smaller businesses, as for the first time, they can have access to tools previously only available to OpenAI Enterprise customers, under OpenAI’s more favorable Business Terms and the privacy policies listed on the Enterprise Privacy page, without making the financial or technical commitment required under an Enterprise relationship. 

Thus, for example, ChatGPT Team customers would be covered by the Business Terms’ non-training commitment (OpenAI’s Team announcement states: “We never train on your business data or conversations”), and by other data security controls, as well as Open AI’s “Copyright Shield,” which offers indemnity for customers in the event that a generated output infringes third party IP.[1] Moreover, under the enterprise-level privacy protections, customers can also create custom GPT models that are for in-house use and not shared with anyone else.

As noted above, until now, the protections under the OpenAI Business Terms were likely beyond reach for many small and medium sized businesses, either because of the financial commitment required by OpenAI’s Enterprise agreement or because of the unavailability of the technical infrastructure necessary to implement the OpenAI API Service. In the past, such smaller entities might resort to having employees use free or paid OpenAI products under individual accounts, with internal precautions (like restrictive AI policies) in place to avoid confidentiality and privacy concerns.[2]

As we’ve seen over the last year, one generative AI provider’s rollout of a new product, tool or contractual protection often results in other providers following suit. Indeed, earlier this week Microsoft announced that it is “expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 availability to small and medium-sized businesses.” With businesses of all sizes using, testing or developing custom GAI products to stay abreast with the competition, we will watch for future announcements from other providers about more flexible licensing plans for small-to-medium sized businesses.

On December 19, 2023, AI research company Anthropic announced that it had updated and made publicly available its Commercial Terms of Service (effective Jan 1, 2024) to, among other things, indemnify its enterprise Claude API customers from copyright infringement claims made against them for “their authorized use of our services

On October 30, 2023, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence” (Fact Sheet, here) designed to spur new AI safety and security standards, encourage the development of privacy-preserving technologies in conjunction with AI training, address certain instances of algorithmic discrimination, advance the responsible use of AI in healthcare, study the impacts of AI on the labor market, support AI research and a competitive environment in the industry, and issue guidance on the use of AI by federal agencies.  This latest move builds on the White House’s previously-released “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights” and its announcement this past summer that it had secured voluntary commitments from major AI companies focusing on what the White House termed as “three principles that must be fundamental to the future of AI – safety, security, and trust.” 

One of the many legal questions swirling around in the world of generative AI (“GenAI”) is to what extent Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) applies to the provision of GenAI.  Can CDA immunity apply to GenAI-generated output and protect GenAI providers from potential third party liability?

On June 14, 2023, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Josh Hawley introduced the “No Section 230 Immunity for AI Act,” bipartisan legislation that would expressly remove most immunity under the CDA for a provider of an interactive computer service if the conduct underlying the claim or charge “involves the use or provision of generative artificial intelligence by the interactive computer service.” While the bill would eliminate “publisher” immunity under §230(c)(1) for claims involving the use or provision of generative artificial intelligence by an interactive computer service, immunity for so-called “Good Samaritan” blocking under § 230(c)(2)(A), which protects service providers and users from liability for claims arising out of good faith actions to screen or restrict access to “objectionable” material from their services, would not be affected.

Within the rapidly evolving artificial intelligence (“AI”) legal landscape (as explored in Proskauer’s “The Age of AI” Webinar series), there is an expectation that Congress may come together to draft some form of AI-related legislation. The focus is on how generative AI (“GenAI”) in the last six months or so has already created new legal, societal, and ethical questions.

Intellectual property (“IP”) protection – and, in particular, copyright – has been a forefront issue. Given the boom in GenAI, some content owners and creators, have lately begun to feel that AI developers have been free riding by training GenAI datasets off a vast swath of web content (some of it copyrighted content) without authorization, license or reasonable royalty. Regardless of whether certain GenAI tools’ use of web-based training data and the tools’ output to users could be deemed infringement or not (such legal questions do not have simple answers), it is evident that the rollout of GenAI has already begun to affect the vocations of creative professionals and the value of IP for content owners, as AI-created works (or hybrid works of human/AI creation) are already competing with human-created works in the marketplace. In fact, one of the issues in the Writers Guild of America strike currently affecting Hollywood concerns provisions that would govern the use of AI on projects.

On May 17, 2023, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing on the interoperability of AI and copyright law. There, most of the testifying witnesses agreed that Congress should consider enacting careful regulation in this area that balances innovation and creators’ rights in the context of copyright. The transformative potential of AI across industries was acknowledged by all, but the overall view was that AI should be used as a tool for human creativity rather than a replacement. In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair, Representative Darrell Issa, stated that one of the purposes of the hearing was to “address properly the concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of copyrighted material, while also recognizing that the potential for generative AI can only be achieved with massive amounts of data, far more than is available outside of copyright.” The Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Representative Henry Johnson, expressed an openness for finding middle ground solutions to balance IP rights with innovation but stated one of the quandaries voiced by many copyright holders as to GenAI training methods: “I am hard-pressed to understand how a system that rests almost entirely on the works of others, and can be commercialized or used to develop commercial products, owes nothing, not even notice, to the owners of the works it uses to power its system.”

Back in October 2022, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Gonzalez v. Google, an appeal that challenged whether YouTube’s targeted algorithmic recommendations qualify as “traditional editorial functions” protected by the CDA — or, rather, whether such recommendations are not the actions of a “publisher” and thus fall outside of

At the close of 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the “Digital Fair Repair Act” (S4101A/A7006-B) (to be codified at N.Y. GBL §399-nn) (the “Act”). The law makes New York the first state in the country to pass a consumer electronics right-to-repair law.[1] Similar bills are pending in other states. The Act is a slimmed down version of the bill that was first passed by the legislature last July.

Generally speaking, the Act will require original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), or their authorized repair providers, to make parts and tools and diagnostic and repair information required for the maintenance and repair of “digital electronic equipment” available to independent repair providers and consumers, on “fair and reasonable terms” (subject to certain exceptions). The law only applies to products that are both manufactured for the first time as well as sold or used in the state for the first time on or after the law’s effective date of July 1, 2023 (thus exempting electronic products currently owned by consumers).

Since the passage of Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act (“CDA”), the majority of federal circuits have interpreted the CDA to establish broad federal immunity to causes of action that would treat service providers as publishers of content provided by third parties.  The CDA was passed in the early days of e-commerce and was written broadly enough to cover not only the online bulletin boards and not-so-very interactive websites that were common then, but also more modern online services, web 2.0 offerings and today’s platforms that might use algorithms to organize, repackage or recommend user-generated content.

Over 25 years ago, the Fourth Circuit, in the landmark Zeran case, the first major circuit court-level decision interpreting Section 230, held that Section 230 bars lawsuits, which, at their core, seek to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of a publisher’s “traditional editorial functions — such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content.” Courts have generally followed this reasoning ever since to determine whether an online provider is being treated as a “publisher” of third party content and thus entitled to immunity under the CDA.  The scope of “traditional editorial functions” is at the heart of a case currently on the docket at the Supreme Court. On October 3, 2022, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in an appeal that is challenging whether a social media platform’s targeted algorithmic recommendations fall under the umbrella of “traditional editorial functions” protected by the CDA or whether such recommendations are not the actions of a “publisher” and thus fall outside of CDA immunity. (Gonzalez v. Google LLC, No. 21-1333 (U.S. cert. granted Oct. 3, 2022)).