NY Times Sues Microsoft, OpenAI

Posted on 12/27/2023

The New York Times has filed a bombshell lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft Corporation for copyright infringement. It is yet another reverberation of the question at the heart of AI: Whether copyrighted material can be used for training purposes without permission or compensation.

Readers may recall SWFI reported on a writer’s lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft. The suit was filed in a New York federal court by author Julian Sancton. It says “theft” occurred as a part of OpenAI’s training operations and that Microsoft provided “critical assistance” along the way, dragging it into the lawsuit. The suit further alleges that OpenAI has been consuming other copyrighted material for its model.

Allegedly, and in a similar vein to the NY Times lawsuit: “Defendants copied and data-mined the works of writers, without compensation, to build a machine that is capable (or, as technology advances, will soon be capable) of performing the same type of work for which these writers would be paid. Without the wide corpus of copyrighted material to feed off of, there would be no ChatGPT. Defendants’ commercial success was possible only because they copied and digested the protected, copyrightable expression contained in billions of pages of actual text, across millions of copyrighted works—all without paying a penny to authors and rights holders.”

According to the New York Times: “Millions of articles published by The Times were used to train automated chatbots that now compete with the news outlet as a source of reliable information. The suit does not include an exact monetary demand. But it says the defendants should be held responsible for billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages related to the unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works. It also calls for the companies to destroy any chatbot models and training data that use copyrighted material from The Times.”

Microsoft and OpenAI are not providing any comments at the moment, perhaps being left speechless by the tremendous costs such a lawsuit could potentially incur if works have to be paid for or if damages must be paid out in the “billions” as The New York Times would suggest.

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