New Lawsuit Leaves OpenAI in AI Copyright Crosshairs

CFOs need to stay up to speed on The New York Times’ legal claims on AI copyright infringements.

It was only a matter of time before a major publisher fought back against artificial intelligence platforms that “used” articles and commentary to train AI chatbots but without proper permission.

Leave it up to one of the world’s largest publishers, The New York Times, to file the first major AI copyright lawsuit against Microsoft and its Generative AI offshoot, OpenAI in a New York Court this week.

The lawsuit alleges OpenAI used “millions of articles” that are the property of The Times to train its AI text chatbots via ChatGPT without proper attribution and compensation.

“Times journalism is the work of thousands of journalists, whose employment costs hundreds of millions of dollars per year,” The Times stated on December 27. “Defendants have effectively avoided spending the billions of dollars that The Times invested in creating that work by taking it without permission or compensation.”

The media giant says that OpenAI is freely using the news company’s content in a way that forces The Times “to compete against its products” as a “source of reliable information.”

The lawsuit doesn’t specify a dollar amount for damages, but does note that “billions of dollars” are at stake over the “unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.” The legal filing also demands that OpenAI and Microsoft destroy all chatbot models and data linked to New York Times-protected content.

It also calls for the companies to destroy any chatbot models and training data that use copyrighted material from The Times.

Senior Executives Need To Take Note

With ongoing negotiations over copyright issues between The Times and OpenAI and Microsoft officials at a standstill, the matter now goes to a Manhattan U.S. District Court courtroom for a resolution.

While OpenAI has stayed largely mum on the AI copyright issue, company spokeswoman Lindsey Held said yesterday that talks between the two companies had been “moving forward constructively”, but the lawsuit puts an end to that.

“We respect the rights of content creators and owners and are committed to working with them to ensure they benefit from A.I. technology and new revenue models,” Held noted. “We’re hopeful that we will find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as we are doing with many other publishers.”

Corporate financial officers whose companies use OpenAI and other AI chatbot platforms for content data, including text and images, should follow the legal proceedings closely. Getty Images has already filed a lawsuit protecting the fair use of its images and multiple book authors have filed their lawsuits charging AI chatbot platforms with abusing “fair use” laws and seeking damages to protect their published works.

Any adverse legal outcome against the AI industry could spill over into the content all companies currently use from AI platforms like ChatGPT, with potential restraints and even usage bans all on the table, depending on how the courts rule.

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