The New York Times sued ChatGPT developer OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging that they illegally used its content to train AI bots, endangering its journalistic work.
Another copyright infringement lawsuit has been filed in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry, this time by the New York Times (NYT) against ChatGPT creator OpenAI.
The New York Times filed the lawsuit on December 27, alleging that OpenAI had illegally used its content to train its AI chatbots, impeding the NYT’s ability to do its job.
To defend the NYT’s original journalism, the lawsuit invokes both the United States Constitution and the Copyright Act. It also claims that Microsoft’s Bing AI creates verbatim excerpts from its content.
“By providing Times content without The Times’s permission or authorization, Defendants’ tools undermine and damage The Times’s relationship with its readers and deprive The Times of subscription, licensing, advertising, and affiliate revenue.”
The New York Times is not the first media organization to express concern about AI chatbots. The News Media Alliance made similar claims in November, claiming that AI chatbots are illegally stealing copyrighted news and that developers are stealing revenue, data, and users from news publications.
Cecilia Ziniti, an intellectual property (IP) and AI lawyer posted on social media that she believes this is the “best case yet” alleging copyright infringement by generative AI.
She highlighted that the website “www.nytimes.com” is the most highly represented proprietary source, trailing only Wikipedia and a database of US patent documents in the NYT case against OpenAI and Microsoft.
Another example in the lawsuit showed only a few words of difference between original NYT content and output from GPT-4.
According to the lawsuit, the New York Times attempted to contact Microsoft and OpenAI in April 2023 to raise intellectual property concerns and “explore the possibility of an amicable resolution,” but to no avail.
In subsequent tweets, Ziniti stated that she has been a paid subscriber to the NYT and NYT Food archives for ten years and that if ChatGPT gave her the articles and full recipes for free, “I… wouldn’t be paying NYT.”
The lawsuit has ignited a fiery debate online. Some believe the NYT is rightfully defending its intellectual property and the future of journalism in the face of AI-powered plagiarism. Others argue that the case sets a dangerous precedent, potentially stifling innovation and hindering AI research.
- Fair Use: Supporters of OpenAI argue that their use of the NYT’s content falls under fair use, which allows limited, transformative use of copyrighted material for purposes such as criticism, commentary, and news reporting.
- Transparency and Control: The NYT emphasizes the need for transparency and control over how its content is used, particularly by powerful tech companies. They argue that AI models trained on their work should benefit the original creators financially.
- The Future of AI and Journalism: The case raises broader questions about the future of AI and its impact on journalism. Will AI eventually replace human journalists? How can both industries collaborate and leverage each other’s strengths?