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New York Times Files B-Dollar Lawsuit Against Microsoft and OpenAI

Allegations Against OpenAI and Microsoft

In a significant development in the tech world, the renowned US news organization, the New York Times, has initiated legal action against OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, and tech giant Microsoft. The core of the lawsuit revolves around the alleged infringement of the New York Times’ copyright to train ChatGPT, claiming potential damages in the realm of “billions of dollars”

The Role of Large Language Models in Training

ChatGPT and similar large language models (LLMs) operate by sifting through vast amounts of data, predominantly sourced from the internet. These models essentially “learn” by analyzing this data.

Claims of Unauthorized Usage

The crux of the New York Times’ grievance is centered on the allegation that “millions” of their articles were utilized without explicit permission to enhance ChatGPT’s capabilities. The lawsuit posits that as a result, ChatGPT has emerged as a formidable competitor to the New York Times, especially in the domain of delivering reliable information .

Furthermore, a notable contention from the lawsuit is that ChatGPT occasionally produces “verbatim excerpts” from New York Times articles, content that typically requires a subscription for access. This, the lawsuit alleges, essentially allows readers to bypass subscription fees, depriving the newspaper of crucial revenue from both subscriptions and advertising .

Microsoft’s Stakes in OpenAI

Interestingly, Microsoft’s association with OpenAI is not just incidental. The tech titan has pumped in an investment exceeding $10 billion into OpenAI, cementing their strategic partnership .

Attempts at Resolution and Recent Turmoil at OpenAI

Before resorting to legal avenues, the New York Times had reportedly approached both Microsoft and OpenAI in April, seeking a mutually agreeable resolution concerning the copyright issue. However, these discussions evidently did not yield a satisfactory outcome, culminating in the lawsuit .

OpenAI has been in the spotlight recently, not just for its groundbreaking AI technology but also due to internal upheavals. The abrupt dismissal and subsequent rehiring of its co-founder and CEO, Sam Altman, sent shockwaves across the tech community, leading to significant internal unrest .

A Series of Legal Battles

This lawsuit is just one among several that OpenAI currently faces in 2023. Notable among them is a copyright infringement case spearheaded by a group of renowned US authors, including luminaries like George RR Martin and John Grisham. Additionally, comedian Sarah Silverman initiated legal proceedings in July. Further intensifying the pressure, an open letter penned by esteemed authors Margaret Atwood and Philip Pullman advocated for fair compensation from AI companies for using their literary works .

Moreover, a joint lawsuit targeting OpenAI, Microsoft, and programming platform GitHub was filed by a consortium of computing experts. Their contention is that their proprietary code was allegedly used without consent to train an AI model named Copilot .

The Larger Implications for AI Development

Beyond OpenAI, the broader AI community is grappling with numerous legal challenges. Developers of generative AI, a subset of AI capable of producing media based on textual prompts, are also in the legal crosshairs. Notable lawsuits have been directed at AI entities like Stability AI and Midjourney, with allegations suggesting these platforms function primarily by training on copyrighted artworks 10.

As of now, the outcomes of these multifaceted legal battles remain uncertain, but they undeniably underscore the evolving legal landscape surrounding AI and intellectual property rights.


References:

Footnotes

  1. New York Times Lawsuit Against OpenAI
  2. How Large Language Models Operate
  3. OpenAI’s Training Data Sources
  4. Impact on New York Times Revenue
  5. Microsoft’s Investment in OpenAI
  6. Previous Negotiations Between Parties
  7. Sam Altman’s Leadership Challenges
  8. Authors’ Push for Compensation
  9. Lawsuit Over Copilot Training
  10. Generative AI and Copyright Issues

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