New York Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement

This article was published in The Guardian on 28th December 2023.

The New York Times has sued OpenAI and Microsoft over the use of its content to train generative artificial intelligence and large-language model systems, a move that could see the company receive billions of dollars in damages.

The copyright infringement lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, claims that while the companies copied information from many sources to build their systems, they give New York Times content “particular emphasis” and “seek to free-ride on the Times’s massive investment in its journalism by using it to build substitutive products without permission or payment”.

The “unlawful use” of the paper’s “copyrighted news articles, in-depth investigations, opinion pieces, reviews, how-to guides, and more” to create artificial intelligence products “threatens The Times’s ability to provide that service”, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit contains an appeal to the “vital” importance of the Times’s independent journalism to democracy, arguing that it is “increasingly rare and valuable”.

The publisher’s lawsuit is the latest in a string of similar cases, including one brought by more than a dozen authors in September targeting the company for its use of their writing.

Language learning models have faced increasing scrutiny since they exploded in popularity in the past year, with news outlets in particular concerned that the tools will spread misinformation attributed to them and utilize their content with no incentive to click through to the original source. ChatGPT launched in November 2022 and amassed 100 million users in just two months. A year later, it had more than 100 million users per week.

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Image credit: Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

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