The New York Times filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, claiming that millions of its articles were "used to train chatbots that now compete with it." This makes The NY Times the first American media organization to sue the companies.
The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Jeremy Kahn, writing for Fortune, said, "The Times alleges that tens of thousands of its articles were copied, without its permission, in the process of training the GPT models that underpin OpenAI's ChatGPT and Microsoft's CoPilot (formerly called Bing Chat). It also alleges that ChatGPT and CoPilot allow users to further infringe on the Times' copyrights by producing text that plagiarizes Times articles.
"It argues that the integration of OpenAI's GPT models with web browsing and search tools steals commercial referrals and traffic from the newspaper's own website. In a novel claim for this sort of case, the publisher also alleges its reputation is damaged when OpenAI's models hallucinate, making up information and falsely attributing it to the Times."
The European Union's "AI Act," which is the first comprehensive legislation of its kind, supports the Times' court action, which has the potential to be an initial opposition to such practices where more will follow. Many in the publishing industry perceive widespread copyright violation in the creation of extensive language models that underpin numerous generative AI systems.
Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, said, "It's rooted in copyright law and the US Constitution, and that's very much where it begins," taking NY Times side.
In the United Kingdom, the Society of Authors (a union for writers, including many journalists) issued an appeal on Tuesday (January 2) asking its membership to begin characterizing the writing community's use of, and views on, generative artificial intelligence.
A major effort against OpenAI has been led by the United States Authors Guild, the membership of which also includes journalists. Its CEO, Mary Rasenberger, who's also an attorney with experience in the United States Copyright Office, commented during Wired magazine's 30th-anniversary LiveWired event against open AI's fair use of copyrighted material.
Another strong viewpoint of this situation is presented by Alexandra Bruell in her Wall Street Journal piece, saying, "The Times suit raises the prospect of a fissure in the publishing world—if some major outlets follow the Times in pursuing legal action, while others negotiate for compensation from OpenAI, Microsoft and Google, which is developing its own AI efforts. Already, a few publishers, including the Associated Press and Axel Springer, the publisher of Web sites such as Politico and Business Insider, have reached commercial agreements to license their content to OpenAI."
Gregory Barber, reporting for Wired, cites Rasenberger's remarks representing approximately 12,000 Authors Guild members: "Rasenberger scoffed at the suggestion of a balance of power between tech players and the authors she represents," he writes, "comparing the US$20,000 per year average earnings for full-time authors to the recent $90 billion valuation of OpenAI. They've got the money. The artist community does not,' she said."
The legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, as reported by The New York Times, draws similarities to legal proceedings within the book publishing sector, supporting the same idea and rights.