Leading artificial intelligence research laboratory, OpenAI, has dismissed the copyright lawsuit filed by The New York Times (NYT) as “without merit.” The lawsuit, which was brought to light by the NYT, accuses OpenAI of using the newspaper’s content to train its AI chatbots, such as GPT-4 and DALL-E 3, without authorization. The NYT’s move represents a significant challenge in the rapidly evolving landscape of AI and copyright law.
In December 2023, the NYT filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging that the companies used the Times’s copyrighted material to train their generative AI models. The lawsuit, which has become a major talking point in the AI community, claims that this action was taken without permission or payment, potentially causing billions of dollars in losses to the NYT.
However, OpenAI has countered these allegations. In a public response, OpenAI reiterated its stance that training AI models using publicly available data, including NYT articles, falls under fair use. The company argues that this approach is essential for innovation and competitiveness in the US. OpenAI also addressed the issue of “regurgitation”, where AI models output training data verbatim that is less likely to occur with data from a single source and it is the users’ responsibility to avoid intentional misuse of models.
Interestingly, OpenAI is in constructive discussions with the NYT about forming a partnership. These negotiations were progressing well until the lawsuit was filed, which came as a surprise to OpenAI. The company believes that this legal action does not represent the specific use or intent of its AI models and sees this as an opportunity to clarify its business practices and technology development.
The NYT lawsuit is part of a growing trend where content creators, including artists and journalists, are challenging the use of their work in training AI systems. Other lawsuits have been filed against OpenAI and similar companies alleging copyright infringement. This legal opposition is emblematic of broader concern over the ethical and legal implications of AI in the creative and media industries.
In particular, some news organizations have chosen a different path by entering into licensing agreements with AI companies. For example, the Associated Press and Axel Springer have signed an agreement with OpenAI, indicating a potential collaborative approach to tackling these challenges. However, these agreements are often for relatively small sums, especially considering the revenues of AI companies like OpenAI.
The lawsuit and the issues raised in it will be a significant moment in defining the boundaries and responsibilities of AI developers and content creators regarding AI and copyright law. As the case unfolds, it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the future of AI, journalism and intellectual property rights.
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