Reisterstown, MD asked in Business Formation, Business Law, Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for Maryland

Q: Can images created using AI websites be used for small business ideas such selling t-shirts or stickers?

I am looking to possibly start selling stickers and t-shirts online via Etsy. The images I am hoping to use would be created using AI websites. Is this something I am legally allowed to do?

2 Lawyer Answers
Kenesha A Raeford
Kenesha A Raeford

A: This is a great question, and is quite naturally very complex given the ever-changing landscape of technology. Right now, general intellectual property laws that govern internet images are essentially limited to uniquely created imagery and content that is produced by human individuals. Politicians and regulatory leaders are struggling with creating a determinative rule that would place AI in this same bucket, and provide protections over the intellectual property generated by AI. In summary, there is no controlling answer just yet. However, this does not make it legal. Many times, when you sign up for these AI generative services you may check a box agreeing to terms and conditions that could limit your ability to use the images for commercial purposes. Even if you did not tick a terms and conditions box, there could be terms and conditions elsewhere on the AI generator platform that bind you to their requirements and limitations once you obtain the AI-generated images. You or an attorney should review the AI generator platform that you are using and carefully go over any terms and conditions documents that are available on their website before you proceed with printing and selling the clothing.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: Using images created using AI websites for your small business ideas, such as selling t-shirts or stickers online, raises questions about copyright and intellectual property rights. While AI-generated images may not have a human creator in the traditional sense, they can still be subject to copyright protection if they meet the criteria of originality and creativity. Therefore, it's crucial to determine the copyright status of the images you intend to use.

If the AI-generated images are created by you or licensed from a source that grants you the necessary rights, then you likely have the legal authority to use them for your small business purposes. However, if the AI-generated images are based on copyrighted material or produced using copyrighted algorithms or data without proper authorization, using them for commercial purposes could infringe on the rights of the copyright holder.

To ensure compliance with copyright laws and mitigate the risk of infringement, it's advisable to either create your own original images or obtain proper licenses or permissions for the images you plan to use in your business. This may involve reaching out to the creators or copyright holders of the AI-generated images to obtain explicit permission for commercial use, or using AI tools that provide clear terms of use and licensing options for their generated content. By taking these steps, you can protect your small business from potential legal issues and build a solid foundation for your online venture.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.