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New York Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft for Use of Plagiarized Text in AI Language Learning Models

— December 27, 2023

In its complaint, the New York Times alleges that Microsoft and OpenAI use and replicate plagiarized text in A.I.-based language learning models.

The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming that ChatGPT and other language-training models are reliant on massive amounts of plagiarized text.

According to The Verge, the Times claims that OpenAI and Microsoft’s so-called large language models, or LLMs, can “generate output that recites Times content verbatim, closely summarizes it, and mimics its expressive style.”

ChatGPT and Copilot, for instance, have both demonstrated this capability—a fact that attorneys for the Times say could “threaten high-quality journalism” by making it more difficult for media outlets to protect and monetize their content.

“Through Microsoft’s Bing Chat (recently rebranded as “Copilot”) and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Defendants seek to free-ride on The Times’ massive investment in its journalism by using it to build substitutive products without permission or payment,” the complaint alleges.

In its own article detailing the lawsuit, the New York Times notes that the paper has specified what amount, if any, it should receive in compensation. But it did suggest that the two defendants should be held liable for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages” relating to the “unlawful copying and use of the Times’s uniquely valuable works.”

The Times has also asked that Microsoft and OpenAI destroy any chatbot data or training models likely to contain content taken from its print paper or digital website.

Lindsey Held, a spokesperson for OpenAI, indicated that the lawsuit came as something of a surprise. In a statement, Held said that the company had been “moving forward constructively” in conversations with the Times, and that it was “surprised and disappointed” by the complaint’s filing.

Gavel on copy of lawsuit; image by Wirestock, via
Gavel on copy of lawsuit; image by Wirestock, via

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

Other proponents of A.I. language models have, in the past, been insist in their belief that respect for copyrights could “kill or significantly hamper” the continued development of artificial intelligence technologies.

But the New York Times maintains that, by taking eyes off actual news websites, ChatGPT and Copilot make it more difficult to maintain a reasonable revenue model that encourages high-quality writing.

“If The Times and other news organizations cannot produce and protect their independent journalism, there will be a vacuum that no computer or artificial intelligence can fill,” the lawsuit states. “Less journalism will be produced, and the cost to society will be enormous.”


Microsoft, OpenAI sued by New York Times over copyright infringement

The New York Times is suing OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement

The Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft Over A.I. Use of Copyrighted Work

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