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New York Times Sues Microsoft and OpenAI Over Use of Content

AI regulation

The New York Times filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI, alleging copyright infringement.

The newspaper claimed the tech companies used its content without permission to develop their artificial intelligence products, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Wednesday (Dec. 27).

Reached by PYMNTS, an OpenAI spokesperson said the firm respects the rights of content creators and owners and is “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,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We’re hopeful that we will find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as we are doing with many other publishers.”

Microsoft did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

In its own article about the lawsuit, The New York Times said that the suit accuses the two companies of “using the Times’s content without payment to create products that substitute for The Times and steal audiences away from it.”

The lawsuit alleged that Microsoft and OpenAI used millions of pieces of Times content to train their AI tools, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot, according to the WSJ report.

The Times argued that this unauthorized use of its content diverts traffic from its web properties, resulting in lost revenue, the report said.

The Times is seeking damages and requesting the court to prohibit the tech companies from using its content and to destroy data sets that include the Times’ work, per the report.

The legal landscape surrounding generative AI is still evolving, and this lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for the news publishing industry, according to the report.

Other lawsuits, such as one by book authors against OpenAI, are also challenging the rights of AI companies to scrape content from the web for training purposes, the report said.

The U.S. Copyright Office has launched an initiative to study the use of copyrighted materials in AI training, indicating that legislative or regulatory steps may be necessary, the report said.

This lawsuit raises the possibility of other major news outlets pursuing legal action or negotiating for compensation from AI companies like OpenAI, Microsoft and Google, according to the report.

The battle between tech and media companies has been ongoing, with publishers saying they did not receive their fair share of internet growth driven by search and social media platforms. Now, they are determined not to repeat the same fate with AI, the report said.

Some publishers, including the Associated Press and Axel Springer, have already reached commercial agreements to license their content to OpenAI, per the report.

It was reported in August that major news media organizations are pushing for a framework that allows them to “collectively negotiate” with AI model operators regarding the use of their intellectual property.

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