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New York Times sues Microsoft and OpenAI over copyright infringement

The New York Times building at night

The New York Times has sued Microsoft and ChatGPT maker OpenAI, alleging copyright infringement and the unauthorized use of its intellectual property to train extensive language models. 

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit seeks to hold both companies accountable for what The Times claims are "billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages." 

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The media giant claims it resulted from the illicit copying and utilization of its content.

Microsoft, which invests in and provides technology support to OpenAI through its Azure cloud computing platform, faces accusations of enabling the infringement. 

The newspaper said it recognizes the potential of AI, such as GenAI, for public benefit and journalism.

However, it insists that the commercial use of journalistic material requires permission from the original source.

The Times said: “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."

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It added: “Settled copyright law protects our journalism and content. 

“If Microsoft and OpenAI want to use our work for commercial purposes, the law requires that they first obtain our permission. They have not done so.”

An OpenAI spokesperson said: “We respect the rights of content creators and owners and are committed to working with them to ensure they benefit from AI technology and new revenue models.

“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.”

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Susman Godfrey represents The Times in the proceedings.

The litigation firm previously represented Dominion Voting Systems in a defamation suit against Fox News. 

This firm also represents author Julian Sancton and others in a separate lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI.

It alleges the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials to train various versions of ChatGPT.

The Times lawsuit claims Microsoft and OpenAI have built a business model based on "mass copyright infringement." 

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It accuses its AI systems of creating multiple reproductions of The Times's intellectual property for developing GPT models. 

The Times fears AI models like GPT may divert traffic and revenues from news sites, impacting commercial opportunities and altering content.

OpenAI has attempted to address these concerns through partnerships, such as the recent agreement with Axel Springer, aiming to license content for a fee.

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