Microsoft today announced that it will indemnify commercial customers that use its Copilot AI services via its new Copilot Copyright Commitment. This is a major advance over the commitments it made back in June, when it said only that it would institute an AI Assurance Program to help ensure that the AI applications its customers deploy on its platforms meet the legal and regulatory requirements for responsible AI.
“Some customers are concerned about the risk of IP infringement claims if they use the output produced by generative AI,” Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith and general counsel Hossein Nowbar write in the announcement post. “If a third party sues a commercial customer for copyright infringement for using Microsoft’s Copilots or the output they generate, we will defend the customer and pay the amount of any adverse judgments or settlements that result from the lawsuit, as long as the customer used the guardrails and content filters we have built into our products.”
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This is an important and necessary step, and one that should ease any (commercial) customer concerns about using these services. Microsoft says (again) that it is building “important guardrails” into its Copilot services to help respect the copyrights of content creators, which should reduce the likelihood of them spitting out infringing content. But AI is a hard computer science problem, and this new Copilot Copyright Commitment requires that customers, in turn, use these protections.
“We believe in standing behind our customers when they use our products,” Smith and Hossein added. “[And] we are sensitive to the concerns of authors, and we believe that Microsoft rather than our customers should assume the responsibility to address them.”
This system will cover Bing Chat Enterprise, Microsoft 365 Copilot, Windows Copilot, Dynamics 365 Copilot, Power Platform Copilot, Viva Sales Copilot, GitHub Copilot, Power BI Copilot, and Microsoft Security Copilot. What it won’t cover are consumers and consumer services like Bing Chat, though I’m curious how or whether Microsoft might address this need in the future.