New York Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft over AI Copyright Infringement

Robot reading a newspaper

The New York Times has filed a lawsuit Microsoft and ChatGPT developer OpenAI, alleging copyright infringement in a pivotal case that could reshape the boundaries of intellectual property and AI technology.

The Wall Street Journal reports that The New York Times’ legal action against Microsoft and OpenAI, filed in the U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York, represents a significant challenge in the world of AI and media. The lawsuit, grounded in allegations of copyright infringement, accuses the tech giants of using the Times‘ content to train their AI tools, including ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot, without permission. The NYT argues that this has led to a diversion of web traffic and consequently, a substantial loss in advertising, licensing, and subscription revenue​​.

OpenAI founder Sam Altman, creator of ChatGPT

OpenAI founder Sam Altman, creator of ChatGPT (TechCrunch/Flickr)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shows his fist ( Stephen Brashear /Getty)

A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, has placed his company at the forefront of this legal battle, which follows months of unsuccessful commercial negotiations with Microsoft and OpenAI. The Times had sought a deal that would fairly compensate for the use of its content and support a healthy news ecosystem. The negotiations aimed to ensure the responsible development of generative AI technology that benefits society and maintains a well-informed public while also respecting copyright laws​​.

The lawsuit argues that the defendants have circumvented billions of dollars in content creation costs by using the Times‘ work without permission or compensation. The Times is seeking damages and an injunction to prevent further use of its content by Microsoft and OpenAI, along with the destruction of datasets containing its work​​. The lawsuit alleges that the AI tools developed by Microsoft and OpenAI, partially built on its content, have significantly increased the valuations of these companies, demonstrating the lucrative nature of using proprietary intellectual property without compensation​​.

The legal argument centers around the concept of “fair use.” Tech companies argue that content on the open internet can be used under this provision to train AI technologies. However, the Times refutes this, stating that the AI tools reproduce large portions of its articles verbatim, which goes beyond the scope of fair use​​.

The lawsuit cites specific instances where ChatGPT has closely mimicked Times‘ articles, such as a 2019 report on predatory lending in New York City’s taxi industry, illustrating the extent of the alleged infringement​​.

Earlier this year, Breitbart News reported on lawsuits filed by authors making similar claims, including AI tools using complete novels for training and the formulation of responses to user questions:

The Atlantic reports that the latest AI controversy revolves around the use of copyrighted literary works to train sophisticated language models. These chatbots, designed to mimic human-like responses, rely on vast amounts of written content. But the sources of these training materials have largely remained a mystery, raising eyebrows and concerns in the literary community.

Stephen King, Zadie Smith, and Michael Pollan are among a growing list of authors whose works, they claim, have been used without permission. The essence of the debate is not just about copyright infringement but also about the transparency and ethics surrounding the development of AI.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.


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