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The New York Times sues Microsoft, OpenAI, alleging copyright infringement

The New York Times Wednesday sued Microsoft and OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT, for billions of dollars alleging mass copyright infringement. The suit came after months of talks to try to negotiate a settlement for AI use of Times content. EPA-EFE/Wu Hao
The New York Times Wednesday sued Microsoft and OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT, for billions of dollars alleging mass copyright infringement. The suit came after months of talks to try to negotiate a settlement for AI use of Times content. EPA-EFE/Wu Hao

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The New York Times sued Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement Wednesday alleging unlawful use of its work. The suit alleges they created a business model based on mass copyright infringement.

The lawsuit said the companies' artificial intelligence tools "rely on large-language models 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."

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NYT alleges that Microsoft gave Times copyright-protected content "particular emphasis when building their LLMs-revealing a preference that recognizes the value of those works."

"The law does not permit the kind of systematic and competitive infringement that Defendants have committed. This action seeks to hold them responsible for the billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages that they owe for the unlawful copying and use of The Times's uniquely valuable works," the suit states.

NYT asserts that settled copyright law protects its journalism and content while requiring permission from the content creator. The lawsuit said Microsoft and OpenAI have not gotten permission to use content from The New York Times.

Presenting examples of AI output, NYT said the model mimics and sometimes recites the paper's content verbatim while also wrongly attributing false information to NYT.

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The lawsuit asserts that by providing NYT content without permission the AI tools undermine and damage the its relationship with its readers while depriving it of revenue.

"Using the valuable intellectual property of others in these ways without paying for it has been extremely lucrative for Defendants," the lawsuit said. "Microsoft's deployment of Times-trained LLMs throughout its product line helped boost its market capitalization by a trillion dollars in the past year alone. And OpenAI's release of ChatGPT has driven its valuation to as high as $90 billion."

NYT said for months it had attempted to reach a negotiated settlement, but the talks failed to reach an agreement to ensure it received fair value for use of its content.

In a statement to CNBC, The New York Times said that it "recognizes the power and potential of GenAI for the public and for journalism" but said companies seeking to use journalistic material for commercial gain should seek permission from the original source.

"These tools were built with and continue to use independent journalism and content that is only available because we and our peers reported, edited and fact-checked it at high cost and with considerable expertise," it said.

In October. President Joe Biden signed an executive order is the most sweeping AI regulation action yet aimed at mitigating the risks of AI and curtailing risks to national security and privacy.

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Earlier this month European negotiators reached a deal on a "historic" provisional deal to regulate AI, imposing new restrictions on its use.

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