News & Commentary

The New York Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft for using ‘millions’ of articles to train language models for chatbots

The New York Times filed a federal lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft on Wednesday, alleging that they used “millions” of Times articles to train their models, which can now “generate output that recites Times content verbatim, closely summarizes it, and mimics its expressive style.”

This “threaten[s] high-quality journalism,” according to the complaint, depriving the paper of “subscription, licensing, advertising, and affiliate revenue.”

In addition to alleging “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages,” the Times is also (per The Verge) “asking the court to prevent OpenAI and Microsoft from training their AI models using its content, as well as remove the Times’ work from the companies’ datasets.”

In their own article about the lawsuit, The Times writes that they are “the first major American media organization to sue the companies, the creators of ChatGPT and other popular A.I. platforms, over copyright issues associated with its written works.”

“The lawsuit could test the emerging legal contours of generative A.I. technologies — so called for the text, images and other content they can create after learning from large data sets — and could carry major implications for the news industry.”

The Times goes on to provide a response from OpenAI, who say that they’re “surprised and disappointed” by the lawsuit, and that talks between the two companies had been “moving forward constructively”:

In its complaint, The Times said it approached Microsoft and OpenAI in April to raise concerns about the use of its intellectual property and explore “an amicable resolution,” possibly involving a commercial agreement and “technological guardrails” around generative A.I. products. But it said the talks had not produced a resolution.

An OpenAI spokeswoman, Lindsey Held, said in a statement that the company had been “moving forward constructively” in conversations with The Times and that it was “surprised and disappointed” by the lawsuit.

“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,” Ms. Held said. “We’re hopeful that we will find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as we are doing with many other publishers.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the case.

Read the full lawsuit here:

Image: Ajay Suresh (CC by 2.0), TechCrunch (CC by 2.0). Modified from the originals.