The New York Times, a leading US news organization, has taken legal action against OpenAI, the owner of ChatGPT, and Microsoft, citing copyright infringement. The lawsuit alleges that the firms should be held accountable for causing “billions of dollars” in damages.
Large language models like ChatGPT learn by analyzing vast amounts of data, often sourced from online platforms. According to the lawsuit, OpenAI used “millions” of New York Times articles without permission to train ChatGPT, leading to the tool now competing with the newspaper as a reliable source of information.
When asked about current events, ChatGPT reportedly generates “verbatim excerpts” from New York Times articles, which are normally accessible only through a paid subscription. This means readers can access New York Times content without paying for it, resulting in a loss of subscription revenue and advertising clicks for the newspaper.
The lawsuit also highlights the example of the Bing search engine, which incorporates features powered by ChatGPT. It allegedly produces results from a New York Times-owned website without linking to the article or including the referral links that generate income for the newspaper.
OpenAI and Microsoft have been approached by the BBC for comment regarding this legal action.
It is worth noting that Microsoft has invested over $10 billion in OpenAI, making their involvement significant in this lawsuit.
The New York Times initially approached both OpenAI and Microsoft in April, seeking a resolution to the copyright matter; however, no satisfactory outcome was achieved.
This lawsuit adds to a series of legal challenges faced by OpenAI in 2023. These include a copyright infringement case brought by a group of US authors, including George RR Martin and John Grisham, as well as legal action initiated by comedian Sarah Silverman. Additionally, an open letter signed by authors Margaret Atwood and Philip Pullman demanded compensation from AI companies for using their work without permission.
Furthermore, OpenAI and Microsoft, alongside programming site GitHub, are facing a lawsuit from a group of computing experts who claim that their code was used without authorization to train an AI called Copilot.
In recent times, numerous lawsuits have been filed against developers of generative AI, which uses text prompts to create media. Artists sued text-to-image generators Stability AI and Midjourney in January, alleging that the technologies relied on training models with copyrighted artwork.
As of now, none of these lawsuits have been resolved, leaving the outcomes uncertain.