Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
The New York Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft for Allegedly Stealing Its Content
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 months ago on
December 28, 2023

Share

NEW YORK — The New York Times is striking back against the threat that artificial intelligence poses to the news industry, filing a federal lawsuit Wednesday against OpenAI and Microsoft seeking to end the practice of using its stories to train chatbots.

The Times says the companies are threatening its livelihood by effectively stealing billions of dollars worth of work by its journalists, in some cases spitting out Times’ material verbatim to people who seek answers from generative artificial intelligence like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

The newspaper’s lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan and follows what appears to be a breakdown in talks between the newspaper and the two companies, which began in April.

The Impact of AI on the Media

The media has already been pummeled by a migration of readers to online platforms. While many publications — most notably the Times — have successfully carved out a digital space, the rapid development of AI threatens to significantly upend the publishing industry.

Web traffic is an important component of the paper’s advertising revenue and helps drive subscriptions to its online site. But the outputs from AI chatbots divert that traffic away from the paper and other copyright holders, the Times says, making it less likely that users will visit the original source for the information.

“These bots compete with the content they are trained on,” said Ian B. Crosby, partner and lead counsel at Susman Godfrey, which is representing The Times.

An OpenAI spokesperson said in a prepared statement that the company respects the rights of content creators and is “committed” to working with them to help them benefit from the technology and new revenue models.

“Our ongoing conversations with the New York Times have been productive and moving forward constructively, so we are surprised and disappointed with this development,” the spokesperson said. “We’re hopeful that we will find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as we are doing with many other publishers.”

Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment.

How AI Companies Use Online Information

Artificial intelligence companies scrape information available online, including articles published by news organizations, to train generative AI chatbots. The large language models are also trained on a huge trove of other human-written materials, which helps them to build a strong command of language and grammar and to answer questions correctly.

But the technology is still under development and gets many things wrong. In its lawsuit, for example, the Times said OpenAI’s GPT-4 falsely attributed product recommendations to Wirecutter, the paper’s product reviews site, endangering its reputation.

OpenAI and other AI companies, including rival Anthropic, have attracted billions of dollars in investments very rapidly since public and business interest in the technology exploded, particularly this year.

Microsoft has a partnership with OpenAI that allows it to capitalize on the company’s AI technology. The Redmond, Washington, tech giant is also OpenAI’s biggest backer and has invested at least $13 billion into the company since the two began their partnership in 2019, according to the lawsuit. As part of the agreement, Microsoft’s supercomputers help power OpenAI’s AI research and the tech giant integrates the startup’s technology into its products.

Increasing Lawsuits Against OpenAI

The paper’s complaint comes as the number of lawsuits filed against OpenAI for copyright infringement is growing. The company has been sued by several writers — including comedian Sarah Silverman — who say their books were ingested to train OpenAI’s AI models without their permission. In June, more than 4,000 writers signed a letter to the CEOs of OpenAI and other tech companies accusing them of exploitative practices in building chatbots.

As AI technology develops, growing fears over its use have also fueled labor strikes and lawsuits in other industries, including Hollywood. Different stakeholders are realizing the technology could disrupt their entire business model, but the question will be how to respond to it, said Sarah Kreps, director of Cornell University’s Tech Policy Institute.

Kreps said she agrees The New York Times is facing a threat from these chatbots. But she also argued solving the issue completely is going to be an uphill battle.

“There’s so many other language models out there that are doing the same thing,” she said.

The Specifics of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit filed Wednesday cited examples of OpenAI’s GPT-4 spitting out large portions of news articles from the Times, including a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigation into New York City’s taxi industry that took 18 months to complete. It also cited outputs from Bing Chat — now called Copilot — that included verbatim excerpts from Times articles.

The Times did not list specific damages that it is seeking, but said the legal action “seeks to hold them responsible for the billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages that they owe” for copying and using its work. It is also asking the court to order the tech companies to destroy AI models or data sets that incorporate its work.

The News/Media Alliance, a trade group representing more than 2,200 news organizations, applauded Wednesday’s action by the Times.

“Quality journalism and GenAI can complement each other if approached collaboratively,” said Danielle Coffey, alliance president and CEO. “But using journalism without permission or payment is unlawful, and certainly not fair use.”

In July, OpenAI and The Associated Press announced a deal for the artificial intelligence company to license AP’s archive of news stories. This month, OpenAI also signed a similar partnership with Axel Springer, a media company in Berlin that owns Politico and Business Insider. Under the deal, users of OpenAI’s ChatGPT will receive summaries of “selected global news content” from Axel Springer’s media brands. The companies said the answers to queries will include attribution and links to the original articles.

The Times has compared its action to a copyright lawsuit more than two decades ago against Napster, when record companies sued the file-sharing service for unlawful use of their material. The record companies won and Napster was soon gone, but it has had a major impact on the industry. Industry-endorsed streaming now dominates the music business.

 

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

DON'T MISS

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

DON'T MISS

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

DON'T MISS

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

DON'T MISS

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

DON'T MISS

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

DON'T MISS

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

DON'T MISS

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

DON'T MISS

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

DON'T MISS

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

UP NEXT

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

UP NEXT

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

UP NEXT

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

UP NEXT

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

UP NEXT

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

UP NEXT

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

UP NEXT

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

UP NEXT

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

Local Education /

3 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

4 hours ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

4 hours ago

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

Breaking News /

4 hours ago

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

4 hours ago

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

Local Education /

4 hours ago

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

4 hours ago

Charges Against Trump and Jan. 6 Rioters at Stake as Supreme Court Hears Debate Over Obstruction Law

5 hours ago

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

5 hours ago

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

5 hours ago

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

A proposal to levy a fixed charge on customers of California’s big investor-owned utilities will harm low-income households, further l...

1 hour ago

1 hour ago

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

2 hours ago

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

Local Education /
3 hours ago

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

Local Education /
3 hours ago

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

4 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

4 hours ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

Breaking News /
4 hours ago

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

4 hours ago

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend