Skip to main content

OpenAI and Microsoft sued by NY Times for copyright infringement

The New York Times has become the first major media organization to take on AI firms in the courts, accusing OpenAI and its backer, Microsoft, of infringing its copyright by using its content to train AI-powered products such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

In a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, the media giant claims that “millions” of its copyrighted articles were used to train its AI technologies, enabling it to compete with the New York Times as a content provider.

The New York Times said in the lawsuit that it wants the two companies to be held liable for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages.”

OpenAI and similar AI companies trawl the web for content that’s used to train its large language models, which power products like its popular ChatGPT chatbot.

The impending high-profile legal battle will be watched closely by many in the media industry as the court’s rulings could open up a slew of similar claims by other big organizations.

The New York Times lawsuit alleges that if a user asks ChatGPT about recent events, the chatbot will occasionally respond with word-for-word passages from the news organization’s articles that would otherwise need a subscription to access. Links to the original article on the New York Times site are also missing.

The news outlet says that this is leading to a loss of revenue as potential customers are discouraged from taking out a subscription, while income generated from visits to its website is also being lost.

The lawsuit also reveals that the New York Times approached OpenAI and its backer, Microsoft, in the spring in a bid to resolve the issue, but they failed to reach an agreement.

Responding to the action, OpenAI said in a statement: “We respect the rights of content creators and owners and are committed to working with them to ensure they benefit from AI 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. We’re hopeful that we will find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as we are doing with many other publishers.”

This includes a partnership with German media behemoth Axel Springer that gives OpenAI access to its news content for a fee. Deals like this are expected to become more common as OpenAI and similar firms search for a way to steer clear of more lawsuits.

Earlier this year, a group of prominent authors, including George R.R. Martin, John Grisham, and Jodi Picoult, also filed a lawsuit against OpenAI over a similar issue. And it’s not just written content that’s used by AI firms, with the likes of Midjourney and Stability AI analyzing copyrighted imagery on the web to train text-to-image software capable of creating “original” content. Artists have also been launching lawsuits while taking direct action to confuse the AI systems that analyze their work.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
One year ago, ChatGPT started a revolution
The ChatGPT website on a laptop's screen as the laptop sits on a counter in front of a black background.

Exactly one year ago, OpenAI put a simple little web app online called ChatGPT. It wasn't the first publicly available AI chatbot on the internet, and it also wasn't the first large language model. But over the following few months, it would grow into one of the biggest tech phenomenons in recent memory.

Thanks to how precise and natural its language abilities were, people were quick to shout that the sky was falling and that sentient artificial intelligence had arrived to consume us all. Or, the opposite side, which puts its hope for humanity within the walls of OpenAI. The debate between these polar extremes has continued to rage up until today, punctuated by the drama at OpenAI and the series of conspiracy theories that have been proposed as an explanation.

Read more
Here’s why people are saying GPT-4 is getting ‘lazy’
OpenAI announced its latest iteration of ChatGPT with greater accuracy and creativity.

OpenAI and its technologies have been in the midst of scandal for most of November. Between the swift firing and rehiring of CEO Sam Altman and the curious case of the halted ChatGPT Plus paid subscriptions, OpenAI has kept the artificial intelligence industry in the news for weeks.

Now, AI enthusiasts have rehashed an issue that has many wondering whether GPT-4 is getting "lazier" as the language model continues to be trained. Many who use it speed up more intensive tasks have taken to X (formerly Twitter) to air their grievances about the perceived changes.

Read more
What is OpenAI Q*? The mysterious breakthrough that could ‘threaten humanity’
A person sits in front of a laptop. On the laptop screen is the home page for OpenAI's ChatGPT artificial intelligence chatbot.

Among the whirlwind of speculation around the sudden firing and reinstatement of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, there's been one central question mark at the heart of the controversy. Why was Altman fired by the board to begin with?

We may finally have part of the answer, and it has to do with the handling of a mysterious OpenAI project with the internal codename, "Q*" -- or Q Star. Information is limited, but here's everything we know about the potentially game-changing developments so far.
What is Project Q*?
Before moving forward, it should be noted that all the details about Project Q* -- including its existence -- comes from some fresh reports following the drama around Altman's firing. Reporters at Reuters said on November 22 that it had been given the information by "two people familiar with the matter," providing a peek behind the curtain of what was happening internally in the weeks leading up to the firing.

Read more