The New York Times is suing OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement from newspaper articles
December 28, 2023

The New York Times is suing OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement from newspaper articles

The New York Times media organization is suing OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement, i.e. for using artificial intelligence training texts without permission or a compensation agreement. The lawsuit, which marks the first time a major media organization has brought a copyright infringement suit against the creators of the ChatGPT bot, was filed in US Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The New York Times (NYT) did not specify the amount it is seeking from these two companies, but the lawsuit “holds them responsible for billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages.” The outlet claims that OpenAI and Microsoft, creators of the ChatGPT and Copilot AI assistants, are trying to “free-ride on the NYT's massive investment in journalism” without having any licensing agreements. In one part of the lawsuit, the media points out that its internet domain, that is, the portal, is the most used data source for training artificial intelligence models, specifically the GPT-3 model.

The lawsuit says the companies used more than 66 million texts ranging from the latest newspaper articles to texts published on other NYT sites and other affiliated brands. The defendants, as this media claims, used “almost a century's worth of author's works”, thus causing significant damage to the finances of this news organization.

The NYT also claims that OpenAI and Microsoft AI products can produce texts that literally recount his content, closely summarize him, or imitate his expressive style.

In a statement to the Engadget portal, OpenAI claims to respect the rights of content creators and owners, and that the company is “committed to working with them to ensure they benefit from AI technology and new revenue models.” In addition, the company explains that the two parties from the lawsuit are involved in “productive discussions”, which is why this lawsuit came as an unexpected one.

We are surprised and disappointed by this development“, the company claims. However, OpenAI hopes that they will still be able to find a way to work together in the future.

If the lawsuit is successful, it could create opportunities for other publishers to launch similar legal actions and make training AI models for commercial purposes more expensive. Competitors in the field, such as CNN and the BBC, have already tried to limit the data AI can collect for training and development.

While it's unclear whether the NYT is open to a licensing deal after previously failed negotiations that led to the lawsuit, OpenAI has recently reached several deals. This month, it agreed to pay publisher Axel Springer for access to its content, a deal estimated to be worth millions.

In addition, articles from Politico magazine and Business Insider will be available to train OpenAI AI tools for the next three years. Previously, an agreement was also reached with the AP news agency on the use of their archive content until 1985. Unlike Sam Altman's company, Microsoft did not respond to Engadget's requests for comment on the lawsuit.