Can You Use AI Content Legally?

Artificial intelligence has undoubtedly revolutionized content creation. However, users and creators face a common dilemma: Can you use AI content legally? What are the legal boundaries of AI-generated content? 

The good news is that you can legally use AI content. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand copyright laws and the ethical considerations to ensure integrity and compliance as you navigate the legal risks and safeguard your work.

In this article, I'll explore the legality of AI content to clarify copyright law and discuss strategies you can use to navigate this complex landscape.

What you will learn

  • What are the legal considerations when using AI content
  • Whether you can copyright AI content
  • How to legally use AI content on your website without infringing any existing copyrighted material 
  • How to avoid AI content creation legal issues

What is AI-generated content?

AI-generated content is content produced by algorithms that simulate human creativity to generate text, images, music, or other forms of media.

It can include written articles and reports, digital artwork, music compositions, and even video content.

This type of content is created using advanced technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing, which enable computers to understand, interpret, and create content in a similar way to humans - often at a faster pace and lower cost.

Can you use AI-generated content on your website?

You can use AI-generated content on your site. Content created by generative AI is considered to be in the public domain because it lacks human authorship. As such, AI-generated content is copyright-free

Search engines like Google don’t penalize the use of AI-generated content - as long as the content is of high quality and demonstrates E-E-A-T (expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) qualities. 

To achieve this, you should combine AI efficiency with human oversight.

Various companies have openly embraced AI technology for content creation. Buzzfeed, for example, launched Buzzy the Robot to create AI-native content and enhance human-created content. 

Can AI content be copyrighted?

AI-generated content can’t be copyrighted. Currently, the U.S. Copyright Office maintains that copyright protection requires human authorship, thus excluding non-human or AI works. 

Legally, the content that AI produces is the culmination of human creations. However, since the AI model generates unpredictable outputs based on its training data and text prompts, this voids it off the legal distinction of being created by humans.

Thus, the debate continues over who owns AI content: the AI developers, the creators, or the users.

For example, Kristina Kashtanova submitted a graphic novel, Zarya of the Dawn, to The Copyright Office. Initially in September 2022, the Office granted copyright registration to the graphic novel, which was created with the help of Midjourney, a text-to-image generator.

But a few months later, the U.S. Copyright Office reconsidered its position and canceled part of the book’s copyright registration. 

In a letter to the writer’s attorney, the Office explained that it hadn’t considered the non-human authorship component of the graphic novel.

Even though Kashtanova edited the AI-generated images, it wasn’t enough to copyright these. So, copyright protection only applies to the human-created part of the work, not the work as a whole.

Shortly after, the Office released a policy change addressing all AI-human collaboration.

The bottom line is, in cases of AI-human collaboration, copyright law only protects "the human-authored aspects of the work."

This doesn't mean you can't copyright works created with the help of AI software. You just have to be clear about which parts you created and which ones have been created with the help of AI.

So it's important to keep meticulous records of your creation process and disclose it in your copyright application.

AI content and legal considerations

Navigating the legal landscape of AI-generated content requires understanding copyright laws and the ethical implications of using non-human-created content.

Here’s everything you need to know about the main legal considerations and how they apply to AI content. 

AI content and copyright laws

The waters are murky when it comes to AI systems and copyright law.

Copyright concerns in AI-generated content revolve around two main issues:

1. Establishing who holds the ownership rights over the content produced by AI

2. Ensuring that this content does not infringe upon the copyrights of pre-existing original works

AI content that’s solely created by AI technology or with limited human involvement can’t be copyrighted under current U.S. law.

Because the training data for AI involves works created by people, it’s challenging to attribute the authorship to the AI. 

Note that AI isn’t a legal person, so it can’t be litigated against if the content it created infringes on the copyright of original creative work. 

The issue is further complicated because copyright laws that deal with AI content are still in development in most countries.

These laws are also subject to change, so it’s essential to stay up-to-date about these laws in your country or where you want to file for copyright. 

AI plagiarism issues

AI-generated content risks mirroring existing human-created material since the AI models scrape existing content, raising plagiarism concerns.

AI can also produce near-verbatim outputs, where the AI text is nearly identical to the original work. 

The New York Times sued OpenAI in December 2023, arguing that the AI model is diverting traffic away from the newspaper and falsely attributing misinformation to the Times, damaging its reputation. The newspaper provided alleged evidence of OpenAI recreating word-for-word articles from the Times

Another plagiarism issue is that you are presenting ideas or texts as your own, when an AI system created it, thus taking credit for something that isn’t yours. 

Ensuring originality in AI content is a must to avoid legal and ethical pitfalls and to keep your credibility and reputation intact.

AI errors and misinformation 

Known as AI hallucination, AI content is susceptible to inaccuracies and misinformation as the AI algorithms may not fully understand the nuances of factual accuracy or context.

Plus, AI systems are trained on existing data they can access, so the technology doesn’t have all the resources and knowledge to always create 100% accurate content.

There are many discussions online on how AI can produce inaccurate content.

For example, in a Reddit thread, users showcase examples of how ChatGPT makes up journal papers and gets sports, medical, and scientific prompts wrong. 

Misinformation and misleading or harmful content can result in legal and ethical issues, emphasizing the need for human oversight.

How to avoid AI legal issues

While there are legal concerns when dealing with AI, the answer is not to deter from using it. AI is a tool that can greatly enhance your content creation process - as long as you use it the right way.

Here's how you can leverage AI content while avoiding legal issues.

1. Check for plagiarism

Before publishing content generated with AI, use a plagiarism checker to ensure the content is original. This will help maintain your integrity, credibility, and reputation. 

Surfer has a built-in plagiarism checker that’s available in the Content Editor. The tool runs an in-depth plagiarism check and lets you know what content, if any, has been plagiarized. 

If no plagiarism is detected, you'll get a "good job!" notification. Otherwise, the tool will highlight the parts that have been plagiarized and give you the source, too.  

You can also use these strategies to help avoid plagiarism: 

  • Rewrite or paraphrase AI-generated content in your own words while keeping the original meaning. 
  • Rephrasing the content to express ideas in a different way.
  • Citing sources to give credit where it’s due. 
  • Adding your unique view to the content. 

2. Enhance content authenticity

Blending AI content with human insights, stories, and oversight can significantly enhance authenticity, value, and engagement.

Human involvement ensures the content is original and resonates with your audience on a personal level. 

Here are a few tips to humanize AI content and make it people-first: 

  • Personalize the prompt you give to AI tools
  • Share insights, stories, and real-life examples 
  • Add statistics and case studies 

3. Fact-check AI content

Due diligence in proofreading and editing AI-generated content helps ensure accuracy and prevent misinformation.

Fact-checking also ensures your reputation remains intact, as AI is only as good as the source material. 

Fact-check AI content by: 

  • Cross-checking the information
  • Citing the original source
  • Establishing the source’s credibility
  • Using fact-checkers, such as Google Fact Check Tools

4. Be transparent

Disclosing the use of AI in content fosters trust with your audience and can mitigate legal and ethical concerns. 

For example, Bankrate is upfront about articles that don't have a human author since AI technology generated the content. Although, the company mentions that a human editor has edited and fact-checked the content, giving readers assurance that the article is valuable and accurate.   

5. Use the right AI tools

Select reputable AI content generation tools that are transparent about their copyright compliance and data use. Understanding the tool’s capabilities and limitations is essential to using AI responsibly and legally. 

For example, Surfer’s image generator has a copyright infringement claim that states each AI-generated image is unique and can be used for commercial purposes.

Also, with Surfer AI you can create original and copyright-free articles that are also optimized to rank high.

For instance, this article created by Surfer AI ranks on the first page of Google for its main keywords.

And as you know, Google rewards high-quality and original content.

So you can easily create copyright-free articles using AI tools like Surfer AI.

Key takeaways

  • AI content can legally be used, but carefully consider copyright laws and ethical guidelines. 
  • The legal landscape for AI content is evolving, with ongoing debates about copyright and ownership. 
  • Transparency about the use of AI tools, human oversight, and plagiarism checkers helps ensure the legality, authenticity, accuracy, and integrity of AI-generated content. 
  • Choosing the right AI tools for content creation requires understanding their compliance with copyright laws.


The integration of AI in content creation has ushered in a new era of efficiency and innovation, but it also presents unique legal challenges.

The use of AI content has raised many legal questions about ownership, ethical standards, and future and current copyright law.

By using plagiarism checkers, enhancing content authenticity, fact-checking, being transparent about AI's role, and selecting the right tools, you can responsibly harness AI's power while maintaining your work's integrity and legality.

As AI continues to transform content creation, staying ahead of legal considerations will ensure that your use of AI remains both innovative and compliant.

No items found.
Like this article? Spread the world

Get started now,
‍7 days for free

Choose a plan that fits your needs and try Surfer out for yourself. Click below to sign up!

Screenshot of Surfer SEO Content Editor interface, displaying the 'Essential Content Marketing Metrics' article with a content score of 82/100. The editor highlights sections like 'Key Takeaways' and offers SEO suggestions for terms such as 'content marketing metrics