May 29, 2024
New York Times Sues Microsoft, OpenAI for Copyright Infringement
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New York Times Sues Microsoft, OpenAI for Copyright Infringement

The New York Times has initiated legal action against Microsoft and OpenAI, the entity responsible for the AI chatbot ChatGPT. The lawsuit alleges copyright infringement and misuse of the newspaper’s intellectual property for training expansive language models. Microsoft, as both an investor and supplier to OpenAI, provides the latter access to its Azure cloud computing technology.

The filing, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, asserts that The New York Times seeks redress for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages” resulting from the “unlawful copying and use” of its content.

While acknowledging the potential of AI for public benefit, The New York Times insists that journalistic material must not be exploited for commercial gain without proper authorization. The newspaper emphasizes that settled copyright law safeguards its journalism and content, requiring permission for commercial use.

Susman Godfrey, the litigation firm that represented Dominion Voting Systems in a defamation suit against Fox News, is representing The New York Times in this case. The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft and OpenAI utilized copyrighted materials without permission to train various versions of ChatGPT.

This legal action is part of a broader trend where media organizations are pursuing compensation from entities behind advanced AI models for the alleged use of their content in training AI programs. OpenAI’s GPT, a language model producing human-like content, relies on vast amounts of information from public web data until 2021.

The lawsuit contends that Microsoft and OpenAI’s business model is built on “mass copyright infringement,” asserting that their AI systems create reproductions of The New York Times’ intellectual property for developing GPT models, often retaining significant portions of copyrighted expression.

Despite concerns from news publishers, OpenAI sought to address these issues through a partnership with Axel Springer, which involves licensing content to OpenAI for an undisclosed fee. The lawsuit underscores the challenges arising from generative AI models utilizing existing content and the legal complexities surrounding copyright infringement in the era of advanced artificial intelligence.

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