The New York Times Sues Microsoft and OpenAI for Copyright Infringement

The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI, alleging copyright infringement and misuse of intellectual property. The lawsuit claims that the companies, through their collaboration, unlawfully copied and utilized The Times's valuable works to train large language models, seeking billions of dollars in damages. The New York Times asserts that while it acknowledges the potential of AI like ChatGPT for public and journalistic benefit, it insists that such tools must obtain permission for the commercial use of journalistic material.

The legal action focuses on the alleged billions of dollars in damages owed to The Times due to the unauthorized copying and use of its content. The newspaper argues that if Microsoft and OpenAI wish to use their work for commercial purposes, they must comply with settled copyright law, obtain permission, and share due compensation. The lawsuit claims that the defendants' language models, particularly GPT-4, directly compete with Times content and limit the newspaper's commercial opportunities by altering its content without consent.

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The New York Times emphasizes the significance of journalism and content creation in the development of AI models like ChatGPT. It accuses Microsoft and OpenAI of engaging in "mass copyright infringement," creating a business model that exploits and reproduces The Times's intellectual property for the development of GPT models. The newspaper contends that the AI models produce content similar to its own, wrongfully attribute false information, and deprive The Times of subscription, licensing, advertising, and affiliate revenue.

The legal proceedings reflect an ongoing trend where media organizations seek compensation from AI developers for the alleged use of their content to train language models. The lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI follows similar actions taken by other publishers concerned about the potential impact of AI-generated content on their traffic and revenues. In response, OpenAI has expressed surprise and disappointment, stating that ongoing conversations with The New York Times have been productive and constructive. The company hopes to find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as it has done with other publishers.

The legal dispute underscores the evolving intersection of AI technology, intellectual property, and journalism, raising questions about the responsibility of AI developers to obtain appropriate permissions and compensate creators.