Microsoft wants end users to be blamed for using AI to infringe on copyrighted material. Wikimedia Commons

Microsoft believes it should not be held responsible if people use an artificial intelligence (AI) tool like Copilot to infringe on copyrighted material.

If rumours making the rounds online are anything to go by, OpenAI was developing an unsafe AI (codenamed Q*) that forced the company's board to remove Sam Altman from his CEO role. As a result, AI development could be subject to even stricter scrutiny going forward.

Although Altman has returned as OpenAI CEO, AI companies will focus more on developing AI safely without ignoring current laws. While Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella managed to thrive through the tough times, there are still regulatory issues, especially if the report suggesting OpenAI does not prioritise safety is true.

The folks at suggest companies developing AI-powered tools will have to handle copyright issues, especially regulatory issues involving misuse or defacement of copyrighted materials.

To recap, Microsoft announced its new Copilot Copyright Commitment back in September, assuring its users that they can "use Microsoft's Copilot services and the output they generate without worrying about copyright claims".

In fact, the Redmond-based tech giant said it will assume responsibility for the potential legal risks involved. In contrast to its earlier statement, Microsoft has now noted that "users must take responsibility for using the tools responsibly and as designed".

Using AI to generate copyrighted material

It is no secret that using copyrighted materials in AI-generated images without permission would be considered illegal. It is worth noting that there are still protections for fair use, especially with the training of AI models.

However, if an infringement did not fall under fair use, Microsoft claims it would be like holding Apple accountable for someone using an iPhone to capture a picture of a painting and then selling a digital copy of it as their own. You can read all of Microsoft's responses to the U.S. Copyright Office by visiting this link.

Aside from Microsoft, DALL-E developer OpenAI and Google responded to this inquiry from the Copyright Office. This is in response to big companies like Disney complaining about people using generative AI to create images that feature their intellectual property.

Microsoft believes that it is providing a tool and it is users' responsibility to ensure they use that tool within the law. In line with this, Microsoft is sparing no effort to prevent the infringement of copyright by its AI products including Copilot, which the tech behemoth promotes as a key tool for Windows.

Still, Microsoft says it shouldn't be held legally responsible for the actions of end users.