In a legal showdown that could have far-reaching implications, the New York Times has launched a lawsuit against OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, and tech giant Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement that could result in “billions of dollars” in damages.
ChatGPT and other large language models (LLMs) utilize massive datasets, often sourced from the internet, to enhance their understanding and generate human-like text. The New York Times claims that “millions” of its articles were used without permission to train ChatGPT, now positioning the AI tool as a competitor in the realm of trustworthy information.
The lawsuit contends that ChatGPT sometimes produces “verbatim excerpts” from New York Times articles when queried about current events. These excerpts, normally behind a paywall, can be generated by ChatGPT, potentially diverting revenue streams from subscriptions and advertising clicks away from the newspaper.
The New York Times points to examples where the Bing search engine, powered in part by ChatGPT, displays results directly from a New York Times-owned website, omitting essential referral links used for income generation.
Microsoft, having invested over $10 billion in OpenAI, finds itself entangled in this legal battle. The lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan federal court, discloses that the New York Times attempted an “amicable resolution” with Microsoft and OpenAI in April but was unsuccessful.
This legal clash comes on the heels of internal strife at OpenAI, including the temporary removal and rehiring of co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, leading to potential staff resignations. It adds to a string of lawsuits against OpenAI, with claims ranging from copyright infringement by notable authors to allegations that their code was used without permission to train AI models.
As the legal landscape surrounding AI copyright infringement unfolds, these lawsuits underscore the complex relationship between media organizations and AI developers, raising questions about compensation, intellectual property, and the future of creative collaboration. The outcomes of these legal battles may shape the rules of engagement in an era where artificial intelligence intersects with the creative content landscape.