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Legal Action Initiated by The Times Against OpenAI and Microsoft Regarding A.I. Utilization of Copyrighted Content

The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement over the unauthorized use of its published work to train artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. In a lawsuit filed in the Federal District Court in Manhattan, The Times contends that millions of its articles were used to train automated chatbots, including ChatGPT, which now compete with the newspaper as sources of information.

The lawsuit, the first of its kind by a major American media organization against AI platform creators, does not specify a monetary demand but asserts that the defendants should be held accountable for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages” related to the alleged unlawful copying and use of The Times’s content. The legal action also calls for the destruction of any chatbot models and training data using copyrighted material from The Times.

In April, The Times reportedly approached Microsoft and OpenAI to express concerns about the unauthorized use of its intellectual property, aiming for an amicable resolution. However, the talks did not yield a satisfactory outcome. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants, OpenAI and Microsoft, are using The Times’s content without payment to create products that substitute for the newspaper, potentially diverting audiences away from it.




Pulitzer Winners Join Copyright Lawsuit Against OpenAI, Microsoft
Pulitzer Winners Join Copyright Lawsuit Against OpenAI, Microsoft

OpenAI expressed surprise and disappointment at the legal action, stating that the company had been “moving forward constructively” in conversations with The Times. A spokesperson for Microsoft declined to comment on the case.

This lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for the news industry and the legal landscape surrounding generative AI technologies, which create text, images, and other content after learning from large datasets. The Times, known for its successful online journalism business model, faces the challenge of AI technologies potentially luring audiences away from traditional news sources.

The complaint accuses OpenAI and Microsoft of seeking to benefit from The Times’s substantial investment in journalism without proper compensation. It points to the potential loss of advertising and subscription revenue if readers are satisfied with AI-generated responses instead of visiting The Times’s website for news.

The lawsuit highlights instances where chatbots provided users with verbatim excerpts from Times articles, possibly impacting the newspaper’s revenue from subscriptions. The Times claims that OpenAI and Microsoft emphasized the use of its journalism in training their AI programs due to the perceived reliability and accuracy of the material.

The legal action is part of a broader trend of concerns about the uncompensated use of intellectual property by AI systems. Other industries have witnessed lawsuits over the ingestion of copyrighted material, including books and images, by AI programs. The legal boundaries of copyright law are undergoing scrutiny in the face of technological advancements.

As The Times seeks to protect its intellectual property, the lawsuit also frames ChatGPT and other AI systems as potential competitors in the news business. The concern is that AI-generated responses could satisfy user inquiries, reducing web traffic to The Times’s website and impacting advertising and subscription revenue.

This legal dispute may prompt a reevaluation of copyright laws in the context of AI technologies. While some publishers have reached licensing agreements with AI companies for the use of their journalism, the outcome of this lawsuit could set a precedent for how news organizations navigate the intersection of copyright and emerging technologies.

As the legal battle unfolds, it underscores the broader challenges and complexities arising from the intersection of traditional media, artificial intelligence, and intellectual property rights. The outcome could have significant implications not only for The New York Times but for the wider landscape of AI development and its relationship with copyrighted content.

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