Who has ownership rights to AI generated content?

Who has ownership rights to AI generated content?


Zaid Dababneh

Associate Editor

Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D. 2025


Background on ChatGPT and Generative AI:

ChatGPT, like other generative AI technology, relies on what it’s “fed” when “spitting out” responses or data. For example, if ChatGPT briefs a case for a law student, this is because someone inputs all the relevant information into ChatGPT at an earlier time. If someone asks ChatGPT to brief that same case and another case in one response; the software would take the one case’s information from the place it was provided, and combines it with the information found in the other place where the second case was found. All in all, ChatGPT is limited in response to what it has been “told” at an earlier time. Think something like a Parrot. Parrots are well known as a species of bird that can repeat the sounds and words that someone says in their vicinity.


Ownership complications:

To reuse the example of the case brief used above: assume that all the information that was “fed” regarding the case brief were the publisher’s original words and ideas. This would (in most cases) legally belong to them. However, what happens when this information is not only “fed” to ChatGPT, but used as source material and then “spit out” in a different response? Who owns the response? Does the original publisher that “fed” this information to ChatGPT own it? How about OpenAI, the owners of ChatGPT, do they own it? What about the person who requested the response after that was “spit out”, do they own it?

JDSupra, a newsletter dedicated to providing intelligence on emerging issues in the law,  addresses this issue in an article titled, ‘ChatGPT: Who Owns the Content Generated?’. They point to some important issues regarding Intellectual Property infringement, ownership vested in non-human subjects, and why it is likely that data generated from ChatGPT will not be subject to the rights afforded to more traditional property.

The creators of ChatGPT answer this question themselves when asked this question via their engine. In their response, OpenAI states, “The content generated by ChatGPT is not owned by any individual or entity…” In the United States, the owner of a patent or a copyrightable object must be human, and this is important to note because this likely eliminates OpenAI from being the owner of the information it is “fed” or that it “spits out”. Equally important, in the early months of 2023, the US Copyright Office provided guidance in response to an uproar in the emergence of AI Technologies. They ultimately inform users that Copyright can be available to products of AI-generated content if they are in some space original and unique.

In interpreting the information that is available so far, the content generated by AI like ChatGPT will likely belong to the public domain. This is likely due to the complications posed by vesting ownership of a response to a particular recipient. If 100 people ask ChatGPT the same question, and they all receive the same response, who would be the correct and true owner? The answer would likely be that no one does, but rather the public domain.


Release of ChatGPT 5 on the way

 Some of the most common issues with tools like ChatGPT include but are not limited to: A misunderstanding or lack of knowledge in natural language processing. We often see that these types of software are unable to detect some of the most basic linguistic behaviors that humans use daily, let alone provide answers to questions without a wealth of information related to the question. An example of this is seen when one asks ChatGPT to say how much “Pi” is equal to. It will provide the entire numerical list, rather than answering with “3.14.”

ChatGPT 5 is on the way, and the creators are priding themselves on creating a “state-of-the-art language model that makes it feel like you are communicating with a person rather than a machine.” The model is set to understand and generate human-like text, which could revolutionize the way we interact with technology. While this is amazing news, if it comes to fruition, those whose jobs involve language-based tasks are at risk losing their jobs to automation.

ChatGPT also looks to minimize the amount of bias and take into account the potential impacts answers could have on society. Recent datasets and a robust rework of the software will allow the software to respond more appropriately to more complex and nuanced questions. As previously mentioned, the software is only capable of generating responses that it was once fed, making it susceptible to producing content that is inappropriate or biased.


Future of AI and its obstacles:

Ernst & Young (EY) spoke to the regulatory compliance complications posed with ChatGPT. EY spoke to the data collection method used to train this type of AI, and the lack of consent in taking information from the original data owners. The risks posed to data privacy are colossal in nature, especially when considering the personal or sensitive data that could be collected. One possible way to halt the litigation that OpenAI is exposing themselves to is by informing users of how their personal data is being collected, processed and used. Furthermore, OpenAI should consider requiring users to have autonomy over the particular uses of their personal or sensitive information.

AI is here, and it is not going anywhere any time soon. The efficiency that this technology is providing a world, which is itching to find every extra ounce of time, is not to be undervalued. The questions and issues posed today are important to note and solve; however, this is just the beginning. The problems will only increase in size and consequence. The way society and lawmakers should approach this new area of law is the same way we have historically approached new issues; with caution and an open mind. The benefits will outweigh the costs, and we cannot be afraid of AI, but instead embrace this tool in daily life. AI technologies like ChatGPT will become the new norm, whether we like it or not.