New York Times’ AI Lawsuit Names OpenAI and Microsoft

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The New York Times has filed an AI lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement.

  • The NYT claims that millions of its articles have been used, without consent, to train the companies’ AI models which have now become its competitors.
  • The paper is demanding the destruction of any AI or training model that involves NYT material.

On December 27th, The New York Times (NYT) filed an AI lawsuit against both OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement.

The publication alleges that millions of its articles were used in the training of the companies’ AI models without its consent. In the filings, it states that “[OpenAI and Microsoft’s] generative artificial intelligence (“GenAI”) tools rely on large-language models (“LLMs”) that were built by copying and using millions of The Times’s copyrighted news articles, in-depth investigations, opinion pieces, reviews, how-to guides, and more.”

Over the past year, we have seen many AI lawsuits and complaints raised against the source of the training materials. And it went beyond OpenAI. Earlier this year, a group of prominent writers filed a lawsuit against Meta for copyright infringement as well. Meanwhile, artists lost the AI lawsuit over the uncompensated and unauthorized use of billions of images downloaded from the internet for AI training.

Well, The Times’ lawsuit is the first by an American media organization. Other than its outrage over the liberty these companies took with its articles, NYT is claiming that the trained chatbots are now its direct competitors. Fair enough. How would you like it if your competitor is basically your clone?

The Times made its feelings crystal clear in the filings. “[OpenAI and Microsoft’s] unlawful use of The Times’s work to create artificial intelligence products that compete with it threatens The Times’s ability to provide that service.”

As a result, the AI lawsuit claims that OpenAI and Microsoft’s actions resulted in “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damage.” The paper is going the extra mile (more like the extra kilometer) and demanding the destruction of any chatbot models and training data that had anything to do with copyrighted NYT materials.

The Times approached both companies in April to try to resolve this among themselves. It was even looking for a commercial agreement and technological safeguards around AI products. However, there was no satisfactory resolution.

Lindsey Held, OpenAI spokesperson, said in a statement, “Our ongoing conversations with the New York Times have been productive and moving forward constructively, so we are surprised and disappointed with this development. We’re hopeful that we will find a mutually beneficial way to work together, as we are doing with many other publishers.”

Nobody would be happy that their life’s work was blatantly stolen like this. Why should the NYT take it?

As much as I support innovation and technological advancements, it should never happen at the expense of human beings. And there are many arguments to be made on how AI stripped us of our value.

Will the court rule in favor of the 172 years of human intellectual hard work? Or will it give AI another pass?

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