ChatGPT and Intellectual Property Issues

ChatGPT and Intellectual Property Issues

The potential of ChatGPT seems limitless as the advancement of generative AI allows the language processing system to provide answers to a whole host of subjects. 

Since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, users around the world have tried and tested the many ways ChatGPT could contribute to their lives – be it learning a new skill, improving their output at work, all the way down to figuring out simple, everyday tasks. 

However, issues started to surface regarding the ethics and legal issues surrounding the use of ChatGPT. 

ChatGPT works by identifying, sourcing and processing large quantities of data available online in order to produce the necessary output. The technology, called the Large Language Model (LLM), does not own the right to the data sourced but merely copies the data found to be input into the language processing model. ChatGPT may also interact with sensitive information through data sourcing. 

Due to the nature of ChatGPT, there are a few Intellectual Property concerns that could arise not only through personal use, but also when it comes to creating content made for public distribution. 

Copyright Issues Surrounding ChatGPT

Copyright protection is eligible for original works of authorship. Third parties are not allowed to copy, reproduce or distribute works under copyright protection unless permission has been obtained by the author and relevant parties.

ChatGPT’s technology relies on sourcing third party data to provide the best possible output. Under these circumstances, the possibility of infringing upon the copyrights of others is high as ChatGPT does not license, nor own the rights to the data they are sourcing from. This renders AI companies to a dangerous position as IP owners may seek to be compensated for their work. 

 Copyright laws for AI tools vary from country to country and may not be fully formed due to the rapid advancement of technology. Here is a brief overview of copyright laws in several countries when it comes to AI-derived works: 

United States

In the United States, there is no clear ruling on copyright protection for AI-derived works. Recent AI-related cases in the US have shown such works may not obtain copyright protection and works seeking such a protection are required to demonstrate ‘human creativity.’ The US abides by the ‘fair use’ doctrine, whereby certain types of uses such as comment, reporting, research and teaching are permissible when it comes to copyrighted works. It is currently unclear if ChatGPT’s use of text and data mining abides by the ‘fair use’ rule in terms of copyright infringement. 

European Union

The European Union AI Act is the world’s first comprehensive AI law and all artificial intelligence used in the EU will fall under such laws. Generative AI such as ChatGPT must abide by several requirements to be able to operate in the European Union: 

  • Content generated must be disclosed as generated by AI;
  • Language processing model must be designed in such a way where illegal content cannot be generated; 
  • Summaries of copyrighted data used for training must be published.

United Kingdom

Copyright legislation in the United Kingdom is currently building upon a comprehensive set of practices which will reflect technological advancements such as AI-derived works. At the moment, AI-generated works are only allowed for personal use and non-commercial purposes. 


In Singapore, amendments have been made to the Singapore Copyright Act 2021 to accommodate the changes in technology in recent years. The new computational data analysis rule meant that lawfully accessed information and data will be allowed under certain conditions. This rule includes all publicly available works and companies can utilise computational data analysis for any purposes. 


In Malaysia, the governing IP body has yet to expand upon its legislation to include the regulation of AI-derived works or AI-generated content. Under the circumstance whereby IP issues arise, all works will be subject to existing legislations, such as the Copyright Act 1987. It is to be seen if these regulations are updated in line with technological advancements. 

Have a question about copyright protection and infringement? Let us get you started with our IP professionals with a free consultation.

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