Copyright Clash: The New York Times Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Microsoft Over A.I. Usage


Copyright Clash: The New York Times Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Microsoft Over A.I. Usage
Copyright Clash: The New York Times Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Microsoft Over A.I. Usage

The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement on Wednesday. The move by one of the most prominent newspapers is the latest in several cases against GenerativeAI companies for training their AI models on the data acquired without the owner's permission. Training an AI model is a difficult and complex process read this article to learn more about it.

The New York Times claimed to be the "first major American media organisation to sue the companies over copyright issues associated with its written works."

The lawsuit, filed by the New York Times in Federal District Court in Manhattan, contends that millions of articles published by The New York Times were used to train automated chatbots that now compete with the news outlet as a source of reliable information.

The lawsuit filed by the New York Times does not include any amount written in it, as the newspaper claimed. It also added that the defendants - OpenAI and Microsoft - should be held responsible for "billions of dollars of statutory damages and actual damages." Statutory damages mean the minimum amount the law decides, which the person or company accused would have to pay if proven guilty.

The New York Times seeks money for "unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works." In the lawsuit, The New York Times also demands the companies to destroy the chatbot models and training data that uses copyrighted material from The NY Times.

In the lawsuit, American Newspaper also claims that it approached Microsoft and OpenAI in April to raise concerns about the use of intellectual property and copyrighted material. The lawsuit claimed that The New York Times wanted to be involved in a commercial agreement for the generative AI products. It also added that the talks did not come to a conclusion.

An OpenAI spokeswoman, Lindsey Held, said in a statement that the company had been “moving forward constructively” in conversations with The Times and that it was “surprised and disappointed” by the lawsuit.

“We respect the rights of content creators and owners and are committed to working with them to ensure they benefit from A.I. technology and new revenue models,” Ms. Held said. “We’re hopeful that we will find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as we are doing with many other publishers.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the case.

This year OpenAI proved to be one of the most successful companies as its generative AI products like ChatGPT helped it to attract billions of dollars of investments including from Microsoft. The New York Times accused OpenAI of using a variety of online texts, newspaper articles, poems and even screenplays to train chatbots.

OpenAI is now valued by investors at more than $80 billion. Microsoft has committed $13 billion to OpenAI and has incorporated the company’s technology into its Bing search engine.

The lawsuit accused OpenAI of using the content from The New York Times without paying the company.

“Defendants seek to free-ride on The Times’s massive investment in its journalism,” the complaint says, accusing OpenAI and Microsoft of “using The Times’s content without payment to create products that substitute for The Times and steal audiences away from it.”

This year there has been a rise in concerns about AI taking over jobs in creative fields because of its ability to mimic natural language and generate well-written responses to almost every prompt.

Microsoft has previously acknowledged potential copyright concerns over its A.I. products. In September, the company announced that if customers using its A.I. tools were hit with copyright complaints, it would indemnify them and cover the associated legal costs.

The lawsuit also declared ChatGPT and other AI tools as potential competitors in news publishing and as a source of the latest news. The newspaper expresses concern that readers will be satisfied with a response from a chatbot and decline to visit The Times’s website, thus reducing web traffic that can be translated into advertising and subscription revenue.

The complaint cites several examples when a chatbot provided users with near-verbatim excerpts from Times articles that would otherwise require a paid subscription to view. It asserts that OpenAI and Microsoft placed particular emphasis on the use of Times journalism in training their A.I. programs because of the perceived reliability and accuracy of the material.

Several media organisations have struck a deal with OpenAI which allows the tech company to license the news article for the training of its AI models. Some prominent media organisations are The Associated Press and Axel Springer, the owner of Politico and Business Insider.

The lawsuit shows the example of how Bing generates texts which are owned by The Times but do not link to the page from which the text is taken.

The outcome of the lawsuit is very significant as it can result in a law which can properly regulate this everchanging technology.

Copyrighted materials or any original materials are the result of the hard work of one or more people. Their work should respected and if it is used for training purposes, the owners should be paid well.

This case also brings up the fact that training an AI model is way harder than anyone can think. You do not only need to have a technical field but knowledge in various others like law and language for this purpose. 

In conclusion, awareness should be spread among the public about this major problem. Legislators should work on formulating bills that encourage fair play in this new and awesome field, and authorities should create new methods to implement them.



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