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Legalities of Using AI-Generated Content for Commercial Purposes

Author: Hustle MillennialTime: 2024-02-03 17:55:00

Table of Contents

Copyright Ownership of AI-Generated Content

When it comes to AI generated content from platforms like OpenAI, Midjourney, Runway, and Stable Diffusion, one of the most important things to understand is the legalities around owning and using the content you create. There has been a lot of misinformation spread, especially after a recent US court ruling that said you cannot copyright AI-generated content.

This created panic around what type of generative content you can actually use commercially. While it's true you cannot patent or trademark content generated by AI, you do still own certain rights over assets created on these platforms, as outlined in their Terms of Service.

OpenAI Content Policy

OpenAI owns DALL-E, DALL-E 2, and powers AI systems like the Microsoft Bing image generator. According to Section 3 of their Terms, if you comply with the Terms and laws, OpenAI assigns full rights to any output you create with their services for commercial use. This means you can sell, publish, or use OpenAI-generated content, given you have at least a paid basic subscription. OpenAI does note output may not be unique across users - two people could generate the same image with different seeds. But each user owns their individual generation.

Midjourney Content Policy

Similarly, Midjourney grants you ownership over any assets created with their services, excluding upscaling others' images. You must have an active paid subscription to claim commercial rights. If you cancel your account, you still retain ownership of previously-created assets. However, there are exceptions - if you work for a $1M+ company and use Midjourney on their behalf, you need a Pro account to claim ownership. Without a paid account, Midjourney only provides a non-commercial Creative Commons license.

Runway Content Policy

Runway's policy states that by publishing content you generate with their services, you represent having full rights to use, reproduce, modify, publish, distribute, and create derivatives of that content. However, the original assets you upload to create derivatives cannot infringe any copyrights. To use Runway content commercially without watermarks, you need a paid subscription.

When You Need a Paid Subscription

As the policies outlined, to truly own and use AI-generated content commercially, you need an active paid subscription to platforms like OpenAI, Midjourney, and Runway.

Basic paid plans allow full rights over unique creations using the platform's models and systems. However, taking full advantage often requires upgraded Pro-level accounts.

Limitations on Public Figures and Copyrighted Works

Despite owning rights to unique AI-generated creations, there are some limitations. As seen in DALL-E's policy, you cannot create or remix images of public figures without consent. This includes celebrities, politicians, and more.

You also cannot upload copyrighted materials you don't have rights to in order to generate derivatives. Both are important restrictions to keep in mind for legal and ethical reasons.

Unique Content and Duplicate Generation

Due to the use of different inputs like text prompts and image seeds, AI systems can generate unique content for each user. But given the number of users, duplication occasionally occurs organically.

As OpenAI notes, you own rights to your specific generation even if someone creates something visually identical.The underlying content remains individually owned. But duplication could create consumer confusion in commercial use cases.


In summary - you maintain rights over any original AI-generated assets created with paid services like OpenAI, Midjourney, and Runway. Just be aware of use case limitations around copyright, trademarks, and public figures.

Review each platform's content policies closely, and understand needing paid subscriptions for full ownership. This gives clarity to produce and monetize amazing AI-powered creations!


Q: Do I own the AI art I create?
A: Yes, you own the rights to AI art you generate as long as you comply with the platform's terms of service and have an active paid subscription.

Q: Can I sell AI generated content?
A: Yes, AI platforms like OpenAI and Midjourney grant you commercial rights to use AI-generated content, allowing you to sell it.

Q: Do I need a paid account to sell AI art?
A: Yes, you need at least a basic paid account for commercial rights to sell AI art with OpenAI, Midjourney or Runway.

Q: What if I cancel my AI art subscription?
A: You retain ownership rights to any AI art generated during active subscription periods.

Q: Can I remix copyrighted images?
A: No, you cannot legally remix or modify copyrighted source images without permission from the rights holder.

Q: Can I generate images of celebrities?
A: No, generating AI images of public figures without consent is prohibited by most AI platforms.

Q: What if AI generates duplicate content?
A: Even identical AI output can be owned separately, as rights are granted on a per-user basis.

Q: Can employees use AI for employers?
A: Employees of large companies need 'Pro' plans to retain commercial rights to AI content generated for employers.

Q: Do I need to credit AI platforms?
A: You must retain AI platform branding and credits on unpaid plans, but can remove with paid subscription.

Q: Can I resell AI art NFTs?
A: Yes, you can legally sell AI-generated art NFTs as long as you comply with platform terms of service.