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Lawsuits & Litigation

Daily Newspapers, Media Groups File More Copyright Claims Against Microsoft and OpenAI

— May 3, 2024

Eight daily newspapers and their parent companies claim that OpenAI violated copyright protections by using media articles to train its AI language tools.

A group of eight newspaper publishers and media outlets have filed a copyright infringement against OpenAI and Microsoft, accusing both companies of “purloining millions” of news articles without either obtaining permission from, or making payment to, their publishers.

The plaintiffs in the complaint, which was filed earlier this week in a New York City-based federal court, include organizations such as the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, and the Denver Post.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars gathering information and reporting news at our publications, and we can’t allow OpenAI and Microsoft to expand the Big Tech playbook of stealing our work to build their own businesses at our expense,” MediaNews Group and Tribune Publishing executive editor Frank Pine said in a statement.

According to The Associated Press, other outlets involved in the lawsuit are MediaNews Group subsidiaries the Mercury News, Orange County Register, St. Paul Pioneer-Press, and the Tribune Publishing-operated Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All of these newspapers are owned by Alden Global Capital.

Outside of the plaintiffs’ infringement-related concerns, the lawsuit also suggests that OpenAI’s ChatGPT has—at times—generated false citations for stories published by the plaintiffs.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

In the complaint, for instance, attorneys provided the example of an instance in which ChatGPT said that the Chicago Tribune recommended a certain type of infant lounger which the paper had never actually endorsed. And, in another incident, ChatGPT responded to a question about whether smoking can curse asthma by erroneously stating that the Denver Post had published research indicating that cigarettes can somehow improve lung cancer.

“This issue is not just a business problem for a handful of newspapers or the newspaper industry at large,” the lawsuit alleges. “It is a critical issue for civil life in America.”

OpenAI has since clarified that, despite the numerous copyright-related claims the company now faces, it goes to great lengths to support the rights of journalists and news publishers.

“While we were not previously aware of Alden Global Capital’s concerns, we are actively engaged in constructive partnerships and conversations with many news organizations around the world to explore opportunities, discuss any concerns, and provide solutions,” OpenAI said in a statement.

OpenAI, which is still facing a high-profile copyright infringement lawsuit from The New York Times, has repeatedly cited fair use doctrine in defense of its products and practices.

The company has also said that, if it were compelled by court order to remove all copyright-protected content from ChatGPT and other large language models, they would have to be rebuilt from the ground up—an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.

But the plaintiffs, for their part, say that technology companies like OpenAI and Microsoft have no right to profit off their work.

“This lawsuit,” attorneys wrote, “is about how Microsoft and OpenAI are not entitled to use copyrighted newspaper content to build their new trillion-dollar enterprises without paying for that content.

“[…] Defendants must both obtain the Publishers’ consent to use their content and pay fair value for such use.”


8 Daily Newspapers Sue OpenAI and Microsoft Over A.I.

Eight newspapers sue OpenAI, Microsoft for copyright infringement

Eight US newspapers sue ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement

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