The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft for alleged copyright infringement made by their tools powered by generative AI.
The lawsuit, submitted to the Federal District Court in Manhattan, marks the first major action by an American media organization against these tech giants over copyright issues linked to their written works.
The suit claims that millions of articles published by The Times were used without permission to train automated chatbots.
These chatbots are now seen as competitors to the news outlets, providing information that could potentially rival the newspaper’s role as a reliable information source.
Many traditional media outlets have been struggling to find a sustainable business model with the expansion of social media.
While the lawsuit does not specify a monetary demand, it suggests that the defendants should be liable for "billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages" for the unlawful copying and use of The Times’s copyrighted works.
The Times also requests that these companies destroy all chatbot models and training data incorporating its material.
It seems that Microsoft was already prepared for potential copyright issues with its AI products, as it pledged to cover legal costs for customers facing copyright complaints related to its AI tools back in September.
The lawsuit by The Times seeks to protect intellectual property but also addresses the competitive threat posed by AI in the news industry.
It emphasizes the potential for reduced web traffic and revenue for The Times, as chatbots can provide answers based on the newspaper's journalism, sometimes verbatim, bypassing the need for a paid subscription.
Furthermore, the lawsuit highlights concerns over AI "hallucinations" where chatbots disseminate false information attributed to credible sources, potentially damaging the newspaper’s reputation.
This legal action could become a pivotal moment in the debate over copyright and the ethical use of published content in training AI technologies.
It might easily lead to a new decision from the Supreme Court, which could set a precedent for how tech companies and content creators use generative AI tools in the upcoming years.