Copyright Legal Risks Are Real for Marketers Using GenAI

Read time: 3 minutes

Hi AI Pro!

With such a revolutionary technology as GenAI, you know it’s only a matter of time before the lawyers get involved and new business risks emerge. For marketers using the new tools, it’s critical to stay on top of developments and adopt best practices to steer clear of legal problems…


In a new interview with Business Insider, Peter Yu, a law and communications professor and the director of the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas A&M University, warns that marketing pros using AI to generate content should be concerned it might expose them to legal risk.

Several lawsuits involving the Authors Guild and high-profile authors, including George R.R. Martin, John Grisham, and David Baldacci claiming copyright infringement have been filed this year against OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT.

While these cases revolve around the unauthorized use of copyrighted works to train AI models, Yu said the legal outcomes will affect the entire ecosystem of AI-generated content, especially for commercial purposes.


In a survey conducted last year for Deloitte, over 75% of companies polled said they're concerned about IP and copyright infringement risks related to AI.

The big cases mentioned above are directed toward AI developers over the unauthorized use of copyrighted works as training data. But the way the copyright law is written, there's no reason why copyright holders can’t sue marketers as well, according to Yu.

Using AI for marketing purposes could open businesses up to legal liability for copyright infringement. Even if you are sued, and you can successfully argue in court that you’re not infringing, the costs to mount an effective legal defense could be significant.  


Here are some fundamental rules to follow to steer clear of any legal problems regarding the use of GenAI in creating marketing content.

Human Input

Always include substantial human input in terms of the prompts and any source material that are used as inputs for AI rather than just using simple, one-line prompts and then publishing the content simply as-is, the way it comes out of the machine.

Terms of Service

Review the terms of service of each AI tool you use that spell out the ownership of produced content and permitted use and ownership, and bear in mind these are subject to change without notice.

Vendor Commitments

Look into whether or not the GenAI solution provider you use offers any legal backup. Some companies including Adobe and Microsoft have made some level of commitment to defending their customers if using their solutions leads to legal issues.

Care with Prompts

For style or prompt descriptions, use general terms such as “vintage,” “fun” or “high-tech” as opposed to specific brands, works of art or literature, or individual owners of IP like “Andy Warhol,” or “John Grisham.” Save the prompt you use to generate all text and images you create in the image file’s metadata or filename for later reference, to document your process.

Prompt No-Nos

In your prompts, avoid mentioning published works or characters that are protected by copyright. Don’t include references to preexisting copyrighted works in your prompts and don’t upload preexisting reference images unless you own the copyright.

Contractors and Partners

It’s vital to ensure that your contractors and partners understand and abide by copyright laws. Include terms in your contracts that require them to provide original content and hold them responsible for any infringement issues.

Double Checking

Check outputs of GenAI by using plagiarism detector tools (there are several on the market) and, in the case of images, using reverse image search tools such as Google Images and/or Google Lens to look for obvious rip-offs output by the AI.

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