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December 29, 2023

The New York Times Takes Legal Action Against OpenAI and Microsoft

The New York Times has kicked off a legal tussle against AI juggernaut OpenAI and its close collaborator, Microsoft

In a legal showdown that reverberates across the realms of technology and media, The New York Times has initiated a lawsuit against OpenAI and its collaborator, Microsoft. The venerable publication contends that the two tech giants breached copyright law by training their generative AI models, including ChatGPT and Copilot, on millions of Times' articles without consent. As we unravel this legal saga, we explore the potential repercussions for the future of news content, intellectual property rights, and the intersection of technology and journalism.

The lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court in Manhattan, alleges that OpenAI and Microsoft used The Times' content to train their AI models, calling for the destruction of models and training data containing the contested material. The demand extends to holding the defendants accountable for "billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages" linked to the purported "unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works."

The Times' complaint underscores the vital role of independent journalism and warns of a potential vacuum if news organizations cannot safeguard their content from unauthorized use by artificial intelligence. The stakes are high, with the lawsuit shedding light on a growing conflict between content creators and AI vendors.

Generative AI models, which craft various forms of content from examples, have become a cornerstone of technological innovation. However, the battle between vendors and copyright holders intensifies, with disputes over fair use doctrine providing a protective shield for web-scraping practices. Hundreds of news organizations are employing code to prevent companies like OpenAI and Google from scanning their websites for training data, leading to a surge in legal battles.

The Times' complaint raises a poignant concern: the potential harm to its brand through "hallucinations," or fabricated information generated by AI models. Microsoft's Bing Chat, now known as Copilot, allegedly provided incorrect information attributed to The Times, further deepening the rift between publishers and tech behemoths.

The lawsuit also delves into the intricate relationship between AI models and the news subscription business. The Times argues that OpenAI and Microsoft, by utilizing its content, are indirectly building news publisher competitors. This not only poses a threat to The Times' business but also challenges the traditional model of providing exclusive information through subscriptions. The complaint contends that AI-generated content, sometimes monetized and lacking proper citation, undermines the revenue streams that news publishers rely on.

As The New York Times takes a firm stance against OpenAI and Microsoft, the lawsuit highlights the evolving dynamics between traditional media and emerging technologies. The outcome of this legal battle could set a precedent for the ethical use of AI models, respecting intellectual property rights, and maintaining the integrity of journalism. In a landscape where innovation and legalities collide, the story unfolds, leaving us to ponder the future of news content creation and consumption.

Josefina Dipaolo
Josefina Dipaolo
Content writer at TechNews180
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