Google Promises to Defend Generative AI Users in (Most) Legal Battles
Google will defend users of its generative AI tools in court against accusations of copyright infringement in most instances. The company announced the intellectual property indemnity policy as a way to reassure customers using its text-to-image features for commercial purposes that they won’t face legal issues for doing so and that Google is confident it won’t violate any of those IP ownership rules with its technology.
Synthetic IP Protection
Under the new policy, Google will assume all potential copyright infringement risks on behalf of customers leveraging its AI technologies. This covers both training data used to develop models like Duet generative AI assistant unveiled in August and any machine-generated output created through services like Google Cloud products like Vertex AI and the coding assistant Codey. The protections are similar to the protections announced by synthetic image providers like Getty, Adobe, and Shutterstock.
The sweeping indemnities address a major pain point that has slowed enterprise adoption of generative AI. Companies have been wary of potential IP disputes since the technology learns by ingesting copyrighted data and can generate infringing content. The training data indemnity shields against claims related to Google’s own practices in developing AI models. Meanwhile, the generated output indemnity covers situations where AI services created allegedly infringing text, images, or other media at a customer’s behest.
“It means that you can expect Google Cloud to cover claims, like copyright infringement, made against your company, regardless of whether they stem from the generated output or Google’s use of training data to create our generative AI models. By offering a two-pronged generative AI indemnity protections, we are providing balanced, practical coverage for relevant types of potential claims,” Google Cloud vice presidents Neal Suggs and Phil Venables wrote in a blog post. “This is just the first step, and as we continue working together on our shared generative AI journey, we will continue to support you in making sure you can use our services safely, securely and confidently. With protections like these, we hope to give you the assurance you need to get the best out of generative AI for your business.”
The protections are built into the public service terms of the products as well, making the protection automatic, not something current customers have to seek out and request. That said, there are exceptions to the list of indemnified services, as pointed out by Voicebot founder Bret Kinsella in our Synthedia newsletter. The recently added synthetic image generation for Google Search is not on the list of services covered by the indemnity. Neither is Bard, the product central to Google’s generative AI product ecosystem. That might be because the new protections come from the Google Cloud and Google Workspace product teams, but it’s a glaring loophole unless those products update their terms of service in a similar fashion.