April 19, 2024
NYT's Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Microsoft Could Reshape AI Copyright Landscape
AI

NYT’s Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Microsoft Could Reshape AI Copyright Landscape

In the latest legal clash within the artificial intelligence (AI) landscape, legacy media giant New York Times (NYT) has initiated a copyright infringement lawsuit against OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. Filed on December 27, the lawsuit alleges that OpenAI has unlawfully utilized NYT’s content to train its AI chatbots, hindering the media outlet’s ability to carry out its journalistic work.

Drawing on the United States Constitution and the Copyright Act, the lawsuit contends that OpenAI’s actions, similar to Microsoft’s Bing AI, involve creating verbatim excerpts from NYT’s content. The NYT asserts that providing its content to OpenAI’s tools without permission undermines its relationship with readers and deprives the media outlet of subscription, licensing, advertising, and affiliate revenue.

This legal action follows a growing trend in the media industry, with the News Media Alliance raising similar concerns in November, accusing AI chatbots of illegally extracting copyrighted news and diverting revenue, data, and users from news publications.

Cecilia Ziniti, an intellectual property (IP) and AI lawyer expressed her opinion on social media, considering this lawsuit to be the “best case yet” alleging generative AI’s copyright infringement. Ziniti emphasized a key argument in the NYT case, stating that the NYT’s website is one of the most highly represented proprietary sources, trailing only Wikipedia and a database of U.S. patent documents.

The lawsuit provides specific examples where only a few words differentiate original NYT content from output generated by OpenAI’s GPT-4. The NYT reportedly contacted Microsoft and OpenAI in April 2023 to address intellectual property concerns and explore a resolution, but the efforts were unsuccessful.

Ziniti, a long-time subscriber to NYT, highlighted the potential impact of ChatGPT providing articles and recipes for free, suggesting that the case could be a “watershed moment” for both AI and copyright.

This legal battle is not OpenAI’s first encounter with copyright infringement claims. In September, the Author’s Guild launched a class-action lawsuit against OpenAI, accusing the organization of misusing copyrighted material in training its AI models.

Similar lawsuits have been filed against other AI entities, such as Universal Music Group suing Anthropic AI in October for copyright infringement on a vast amount of musical compositions. Additionally, artists have filed cases against Midjourney, DeviantArt, and Stability AI for using art to train image-generating AI models.

OpenAI has stated its intention to cover legal costs for business-tier ChatGPT users involved in copyright infringement legal battles, showcasing the broader implications and challenges faced by AI developers in navigating the legal landscape. Reacting to the lawsuit, the OpenAI developer forum exhibited mixed opinions, with some expressing hope for the NYT’s unsuccessful claims and others finding the situation intriguing and worth monitoring.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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