Protecting Intellectual Property When Using Generative AI


Hi Creators,

We see the promise of generative AI to help you get from idea to reality faster and drastically reduce the barrier to creating on Roblox. With the beta launch of Assistant and additional generative AI tools coming to Roblox, such as Texture Generator (Beta), we want to share information about protecting your creativity and intellectual property (IP) when using generative AI.

We previously published a post on protecting IP that is a good primer for understanding how copyright protection works online, including the DMCA. This post covers the most common questions we have heard about IP and generative AI.

One important thing to note is that IP law is evolving quickly regarding generative AI. This post is not legal advice, if you have questions about your IP rights, we recommend you speak with an attorney.

The US Copyright Office explains copyright infringement as “when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.” For instance, copying a popular character or well-known company’s logo and putting it into your experience could be considered copyright infringement.

The important point to remember is that you are responsible for the content you upload to the platform, regardless of what tools you use to build that content, generative AI or otherwise. We want you to be as imaginative as possible when interacting with our generative AI tools. Here are some things to consider to help prevent your content from infringing:

  • Don’t use brand names or names of existing protected characters in your prompts unless you have permission from the rights holders or are the rights holder.

  • Likewise, don’t use the names of real people, such as celebrities, in your prompts.

  • Please review the outputs of these tools to ensure that they do not violate the Roblox Community Standards before uploading them to the platform.

If I use generative AI tools, can I stop others from copying my experiences and creations?

Copyright law is rapidly evolving regarding whether you can protect the output of generative AI tools (like Assistant, Material Generator, and Code Assist). When we say protect, we’re referring to whether you could claim your work as your intellectual property and stop others from copying your experiences and creations by issuing DMCA takedown notices, among other things. Regardless of whether you can protect the output of an AI tool, you still have IP rights to any original and substantive modifications you make. So, the more work you do to modify the output of the AI tool, the stronger your rights will be against anyone who tries to copy your creation.

In addition to modifications you make to AI-generated assets, you also have rights to the novel ways you arrange and combine elements to create your experience. We’ll walk through an example below that helps explain this in more detail. If someone copies your entire experience without your permission, you can submit a takedown request to have that infringing content removed.

If you are concerned about using our generative AI solutions with your experiences, you could still use them to prototype new concepts and evaluate new gameplay mechanics.

How does generative AI protectability work in practice?

To help illustrate examples of what is or is not protectable, let’s walk through an example. Imagine you are building an Obby where you must avoid falling into magma to retrieve a magical sword.

Step 1: Create the material for your magma

You can use AI-powered material generation to generate a fire lava-type material using the prompt: “Fire lava material.”

This lava would not be protectable because AI is solely generating it. In other words, you can’t submit a DMCA takedown notice if someone used the same lava pattern in their experience. Additionally, someone who generated a similar material in their experience, wouldn’t be able to claim that you were copying their work.

But let’s say you get creative and use the prompt, “purple magma material with smokey wisps.” Even though this results in an unusual pattern, this still wouldn’t be protected by IP law.

You also create some stone materials with generative AI to be the steps for people to jump on to avoid the magma. Once again, these will not be protectable by IP law.

Step 2: Building your obstacle course

You assemble your obstacle course in the upward spiral pattern using the materials you created in the first step. This specific arrangement is protectable since you are assembling it without generative AI. If someone created an identical staircase and placed it over identical purple lava, you could make a claim against them.

Step 3: Adding the sword at the top of the course

For the final step of your obstacle course, using Blender or another 3D creation tool, you create a sword from scratch and then use generative AI texturing to add a spiral pattern to the sword. Finally, you create a spiraling serpent in Blender and add it around the sword. You place this sword at the top of your course.

Since you’ve built the majority of the elements of this sword by hand, the sword would be considered protectable. If someone copied your sword in totality, you could claim they infringe on your IP. However, similar swords with different patterns or arrangements could still be considered different enough.

Takeaway

Some of the elements of your experience are not protectable on their own since you used generative AI to create them. The whole experience is protectable due to the unique way you arranged it and the fact that you also used elements you created without AI to build it. Combining generative AI with the traditional approach can help you ship your experience faster while helping ensure it’s still protectable.

If someone copied the original and creative elements you added to your experience, you could claim copyright infringement. There is no exact line in terms of what is or is not protectable, but generally the more of your own creativity and unique style you inject into your work, the stronger your protection will likely be.

I see someone else building something similar to mine. What can I do?

If you see content on Roblox that you believe infringes on your copyrights, you can always report that content to us for removal under the DMCA. We are rolling out access to a new tool, Rights Manager, which allows you to more easily file a removal request when you find content that infringes on your creations and intellectual property. Learn more about how to file a DMCA takedown report here.

What considerations should I take when using Roblox’s generative AI tools to reduce my risk of infringing on someone else’s IP?

Roblox offers a variety of generative AI tools, including Material Generator, Code Assist, Assistant (Beta) and Texture Generator (Beta), to help you accelerate your creation and is working on additional capabilities.

Below, we’ll walk through some specific scenarios when using Roblox’s generative AI solutions:

Code Generation

Code Assist and Assistant can generate code for your experience given a prompt, e.g., “Write a script for decreasing the player health by 25% when stepping on this part.”


Example of Assistant generating a script based on a prompt.

Material Generator

Material Generator is a generative AI tool that can generate various images and apply them as materials to existing parts. For instance, you can provide a prompt, “ancient stone wall,” to create patterns you can apply to your models.


Example of Material Generator creating a custom stone wall material

When using Material Generator, you should not give it prompts that pertain to brand names or other protected materials. For instance, don’t ask for a famous sports team, movie, or celebrity. Use of Material Generator is subject to the Supplemental Terms, and you are responsible for verifying the output.

Texture Generator

Texture Generator is a capability in Studio that will allow you to use AI to generate PBR textures for your meshes. You can select a MeshPart and provide a prompt to create a texture for the selected mesh.

Like Material Generator, you should not give prompts designed to create content pertaining to existing intellectual property for which you don’t have the rights. Use of Texture Generator is subject to the Supplemental Terms, and you are responsible for verifying the output.

What’s next

We’re working on improving our existing AI solutions to be more contextually aware and working on additional AI capabilities to help you accelerate your creation.

Let us know if you have any questions, and we’ll try to answer.

Thank you.

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This topic was automatically opened after 9 minutes.

I understand that using AI-generated content may or may not mean that you are able to claim that work as your own. However, if we create derivatives of the AI-generated content, are we then able to take ownership of the work? For example, a developer generates a texture from the material generator. They then use an external program to make changes to the generated image.

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Hi there,
I can’t find any information on this, but will assets (such as scripts, textures, or models) that users upload to Roblox be safe from being trained on by generative AI?
Thanks

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Are there instances of this in the training data?

I was a beta tester for a large-scale image gen model and one of the things that was (and still is) unavoidable is that even when deliberately not using specific terms in the prompts generated images would include something similar because of the nature of semantic association of the words in the prompt. A popular example is ‘man in a red metal suit’ resulting in an image of Iron Man because of the nature of the training data, even when ‘Iron Man’ is not the desired or intended result.

I can imagine here a scenario where for example someone would enter a prompt for something like ‘colorful stained glass lamp shade’ and it could return something very similar to a Tiffany design, if not one that could be said to be clearly infringing.

If the possibility of infringement is baked into the training data by including IP protected training images, to what degree are users protected in the case of gens that are inadvertently infringing based simply on the associations that are made from their prompts that do not contain specific branded or otherwise protected terminology?

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Copyright on what code? You can’t protect your own code.

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Apparently, you can. If the code was stolen from you, you can DMCA take down games that use it.

Jandel did this to a creator.

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Based on the fact you are taking something generated by AI and then “using an external program to make changes to the generated image”, depending on the changes made and how significant they are, likely. I would doubt applying a contrast filter or changing some hue values would be enough, but overlaying your own designs, ie, an eagle or something else similar, maybe a representation of or your work, would be. I’m not a lawyer, though, so that’s only a guess.

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Can I speak to them for free I have some problems with using trademark icons

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There should be some indemnity that Roblox provides to developers for cases such as this. Each generated asset should contain the terms that was used to generate it, either by metadata attached to the asset or encoded into the asset itself using steganography. This way, Roblox can verify what terms were used to generate the asset. Of course, if using the latter, if the asset is modified in any way, the encoding will be destroyed. This could be used as an indicator of an AI generated asset, a modified asset, or something uniquely created.

Your questions are some that Roblox needs to answer.

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Generative AI seems like a great tool, however, what is the AI trained off of? Is it capable of generating a brand unintentionally? Is there any way to identify if someone’s IP is being infringed when generating content?

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I don’t think Roblox can/will answer this question because it would fall under providing legal advice, but as you are aware, you can not copyright AI generated content because federal law requires an author to copyright content.

With that being said, if you modify AI generated content you could theoretically own the copyright to it.

Source:

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No. This is tech heresy, honestly. AI only takes jobs from other creators, this is not helping anyone except the lazy people who refuse to learn the skills that myself and many other devs have put years of work into. I didnt put 5 years of work into my skills just to be replaced by a texture generator because people who lack the skill or cant afford to pay others to make a game don’t want to put in the same effort I did.

Not to mention, AI is built off the backs of artists like myself who have had their textures and work unfairly fed into an AI so it can rip our works and frankenstein them together to create something “new”.

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No. Roblox has told us in their ToS that anything we upload to their platform can be used by roblox for whatever they want. We, as artists, have no legal protections against our works being stolen by this company that has zero desire to actually act in our best interests. They’re at the whims of shareholders who see AI and think it’s all dollar signs. The more roblox pushes into this abominable garbage, the more I want to leave.

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Where is the system that alerts you of IP infringement before bans? Roblox has yet to impliment something that isn’t immediate termination, and enforces this on decades-old assets. You’re expecting the honor system to play out right. we all know thats not the case. what are the prevention steps for infringement issues that aren’t “hey guys be kind and follow the law.” I ask this because corporate has quite literally told me my own work wasn’t stolen when doing DMCA requests for entirely stolen games. Roblox as a company themselves falls flat on IP infringement, and this seems like a cheap way to push fault for something that should have stronger safeguards.

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In the Texture Generator post, it’s specified that:

The Texture Generator is trained using third-party and in-house models on publicly available data

What exactly is the ‘third-party’ model and ‘publicly available data’ here? One could make the argument that the ‘third-party’ model(s) is the same as other models that scrape from artists’ works. ‘Publicly available data’ can just be a professional term for Google Images.

I ask this because not only is it a hot-button topic when it comes to AI generation, but because it would be very ironic to lay out a plan detailing how we can protect our IP with AI generated images while the AI is just scraping from artists and copyrighted material anyway.

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I don’t think anybody should take this as legal advice by any means but I think Roblox further clarifying what they see as something that’s able to be copyrighted will be very useful to many developers that want to go down the route of including AI into their workflow to varying degrees.

I hope that nobody falls into the pit of making their whole workflow AI generated still, but it’s good to have further confirmation that you at least run the risk of being unable to consider the work as yours therefore risk not being able to legally act in the case of somebody lifting it. Thanks for this. Interesting read.

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Welcome to late stage capitalism. Corpos will replace you with software using your work without consent and any laws on this matter will rarely help small artists, as we’ve seen in the past.

This is a reactionary take that relies on not understanding how these models work. Your (completely valid) position is better off without this.

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Roblox encourages everyone to take legal action involving our works and if you believe that your works are copied by others, then we encourage you to take a DMCA report to remove such copyrighted items of your works.

Roblox also said " This lava would not be protectable because AI is solely generating it. In other words, you can’t submit a DMCA takedown notice if someone used the same lava pattern in their experience. Additionally, someone who generated a similar material in their experience, wouldn’t be able to claim that you were copying their work."

Additionally, the more unique stuff you put into your works the more it will protect your own works.

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I’m curious about this as well. I meant to ask in my earlier post about the third party source. I sincerely hope that this source is not part of or derived from the LAION-5B data set or if it is, that there are particularly strict moderation measures in place when it comes to terms used for generation.

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