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Guidelines and Best Practices for Using AI Tools

Generative AI has had a great impact on the creation and use of content in various forms, such as text, music, and art. However, using this technology also involves copyright issues, raising potential legal uncertainty. Developments in AI-driven tools are happening faster than the law can keep pace.  So many aspects are still unclear. For example, it could be argued that using content to make datasets in an educational setting can often be seen as "fair use" in US copyright law or fair dealing in Hong Kong. Publishers and copyright owners though have the right to challenge the use and seek compensation for intellectual property violation through the courts. If you use AI-generated content without checking if the generated content is based on copyrighted works, there is a chance of copyright infringement. Further AI tools have the potential to infringe copyright in existing works by generating outputs that closely resemble them.

Given the uncertainty surrounding copyright and AI, as well as the need for clarification on other topics related to the use of AI tools, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks and take measures to protect ourselves and our works. Here are some recommended guidelines and best practices for utilizing AI in academic and scholarly fields.

This type of information can be found in the “Privacy policy” section on the official site of many Generative AI tools. See examples below:
  • Copilot (Microsoft Bing Chat) – Copilot with data protection: “User and business data in Copilot is protected and will not leak outside the organization. Chat data is not saved, and Microsoft has no eyes-on access to it. Chat data is also not used to train our underlying models.”
    To ensure the correct environment and protection of prompts, CUHK users are advised to sign in to Copilot using their institutional email. For more details, please refer to ITSC website.
  • ChatGPT - Privacy Policy issued by OpenAI: “we may use Content you provide us to improve our Services, for example to train the models that power ChatGPT.”
  • POE Privacy Policy: “Third party developers that create bots on Poe using APIs may view and store your anonymized chats on their servers to train their models.”
  • Perplexity’s Privacy Policy: “You may opt out of data collection for AI data collection which would allow us to use your search data to improve our AI models in your settings page if you are logged into our platform.”
While many AI tools nowadays allow uploading of PDFs and other materials for prompting, it is important to acknowledge that library subscribed resources are governed by specific terms and conditions outlined in signed contracts. Therefore, users should avoid uploading copyrighted works to third-party platforms unless explicit permission has been obtained. Always refer to the "Terms and conditions" of library resources before inputting the content in any AI applications.
Users can reduce the risk of copyright infringement by considering the use of creative works under the following licenses in AI tools when necessary.
  • Creative common licenses (CC licenses)
    Users are permitted to reuse CC-licensed works without obtaining permission from the copyright owner, as long as they adhere to the conditions specified in the license. For example, open access scholar articles are usually published under CC BY license. Learn more about “Artificial intelligence and CC license here.
  • Public domain license (CC0)
    When a work is in the public domain, it can be freely used by anyone for any purpose without being protected by copyright or intellectual property laws.
AI tools may generate content that closely resembles existing works through trained data. To prevent plagiarism, do verify the original source of AI-generated content before using it and provide proper acknowledgement.
For CUHK students, do familiarize yourself with the “Use of Artificial Intelligence Tools in Teaching, Learning and Assessments: a Guide for Students” before considering the use of AI tools.
According to the Hong Kong Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528), copyright subsists automatically once creative materials are generated in tangible form. However, there is still a lot of debate around the world and in Hong Kong about whether AI-generated work has any copyright. Even if it does, the next problem to solve is who owns that copyright.
Some common ground rules for authors include:
In addition to addressing copyright concerns, it is crucial to prioritize privacy and minimize ethical risks when deploying AI tools. This includes, but is not limited to, personal information, financial data, health records, intellectual property, and any other sensitive data that should not be shared with third parties or made publicly accessible.
In the university environment, it is advisable to refrain from inputting confidential information into any external tools, regardless of whether they are subscribed to or recommended by the university. This applies to both administrative tasks and research projects, unless explicit permission has been granted.
As more AI tools continue to emerge and advance, you are recommended to find more details regarding security tips when using AI tools from the ITSC website.

Featured Readings

The website of the Center for Learning Enhancement And Research (CLEAR), CUHK has gathered information and events related to generative AI.

Led by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and five other partnering higher education institutions in Hong Kong, this project proposes a collaborative community of seasoned educators and technical experts to provide practitioners with the necessary support and resources to leverage AI tools for innovative pedagogies. 

The publication offers concrete recommendations for policy-makers and educational institutions on how the uses of GenAI tools can be designed to protect human agency and genuinely benefit learners, teachers and researchers.” (UNESCO, 2023)

“The Quick Start Guide provides an overview of how ChatGPT works and explains how it can be used in higher education. It also raises some of the main challenges and ethical implications of AI in higher education and offers practical steps that higher education institutions can take.” (UNESCO, 2023)

AI's impact on the creative landscape and copyright laws is a global concern. Cases in South Korea, the United States, and China mentioned in the article highlight the evolving legal landscape and its implications for copyright protection. (Copyright Agent, January 2024)

GenAI has made a significant impact on higher education. Ithaka S+R has been cataloging GenAI applications specifically useful for teaching, learning and research in the higher education context. The content will be continuously updated to reflect the latest developments. (ITHAKA S+R) 




  1. Last updated: April 2024.
  2. The information provided here is for general information in an educational setting. For specific cases, it is advisable to seek legal advice if needed. 

Digital Learning Librarian

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Iris Wai
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The Chinese University of Hong Kong
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