How Worried Should Marketers Be About the Rise in AI Lawsuits?
The use of artificial intelligence in marketing is widespread. We’ve all been using AI-powered tools (think chatbots for conversational marketing or Grammarly for copy editing) for literally years. But as marketers wade into the world of generative AI, legal challenges to the technology are piling up. Should you be concerned about the effects of AI lawsuits on your marketing strategy?
The number of lawsuits against generative AI companies just keeps climbing. Getty Images has sued Stability AI over its use of Getty’s intellectual property to train its AI. Multiple news organizations have been forced to issue apologies and retractions over inaccurate — and, in some cases, offensive — AI-generated stories. A group of top novelists has filed a lawsuit that would, if successful, see AI systems trained on copyrighted works (in this case, Meta and OpenAI) destroyed.
But What Do These Challenges Mean for Marketers?
But the vast majority of marketers are not training AI systems — we’re just using them. So do these legal wranglings really even matter to us? Yes and no. While you’re unlikely to face a lawsuit over that blog post you wrote using ChatGPT, there’s more than a little grey area here for anyone using AI tools professionally. Let’s explore.
1. Could You Face Legal Challenges?
It’s unlikely John Grisham will come after you over that best practices piece you published last month. The risk of legal challenges to marketers simply using AI tools is low. (If it’s not, TPM is in trouble — our Blog by Robots is all AI-generated content, so we can compare how it performs against our Blog by Humans.) That said, the risk isn’t non-existent. This is, frankly, uncharted legal territory. Things are gonna get a whole lot messier before the dust settles.
On the flip side, how would you feel if the tables were turned and you started seeing snippets of your best assets Frankensteined into other people’s work? Would you like it? Would you sue? AI tools are continually scraping the internet for new content to “learn” from. Odds are high that, at some point, that will include yours.
2. Could You Lose Access to the Tools You’re Banking On?
Most of us are probably comfortable with the — let’s face it — relatively low risk of facing legal action over your AI use. But here’s another possibility to consider.
If you’re serious about using AI in marketing, you’re probably investing a fair bit of time and/or money to experiment with and master AI tools right now. (Or you’re just playing fast and loose with quality control and trying to get while the gettin’s good.) But either way, you’re going to hit a wall if you suddenly lose access to the tools you’re building your workflow around. If creator lawsuits against generative AI companies are even somewhat successful, many of the tools we know could vanish — or see their use severely restricted.
3. Could You End Up on the Wrong Side of History?
Likelihood: It depends
The legal challenges to AI development and use will take time to play out. Where society will land on the ethics of AI use remains to be seen. While copyright court battles are dominating the headlines, concerns about potential job losses are also (not-so) quietly spreading.
The future of any new technological development is hard to predict. Remember when NFTs were a $2.8 billion per month business? (Not so much anymore.) The best way to protect yourself is to invest carefully, no matter how tempting it may seem to hand off all the hard work to OpenAI. It won’t matter how much time you save if your customers turn their backs on you because they disapprove of your AI use.
Hybrid AI is the Safest (and Best) Solution
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