Using Copyrighted Works in AI Training Data May Infringe Even if the AI Output Doesn’t
Thomson Reuters Enterprise Centre GmbH v. Ross Intelligence Inc., decided in the federal District Court in Delaware on September 25, 2023, asks the question whether a company can train its AI on a competitor’s copyrighted works in order to help it compete? What if the AI output does not infringe the competitor’s copyrights? The answer so far is “maybe,” but that the answer is not “no” adds to the hazards of using copyrighted works as training data. Thomson Reuters v. Ross is a trial court decision denying summary judgment on the points at issue, and is therefore not a definitive declaration of law. However, by denying summary judgment on copyright infringement to the AI builder and user, the decision opens the door to the kind of lengthy, expensive and uncertain litigation that could deter builders and users of AI from using copyrighted works as training data.