New York Times Considers Lawsuit Against OpenAI Over Copyright Infringement

Aug 18, 2023

The New York Times (NYT) is reportedly contemplating a lawsuit against OpenAI, the company behind the popular AI tool, ChatGPT. This comes weeks after the newspaper updated its terms of service (TOS) to prevent AI companies from using its content to train their models.

The potential lawsuit could have dire ramifications for OpenAI, including the wiping clean of ChatGPT’s dataset and steep fines up to $150,000 per infringing piece of content, according to anonymous sources cited by NPR. The allegations suggest that the AI company may have violated copyright laws in its use of the Times’ content.

The lawsuit, if pursued, could become “the most high-profile” legal battle over copyright protection since the launch of ChatGPT. This news follows a similar legal challenge by comedian Sarah Silverman and other authors who are seeking to protect their works from being used by OpenAI without permission.

The updated terms of service for The Times now explicitly ban the utilization of its content for the creation of any software program, specifically mentioning the training of machine learning or artificial intelligence systems. This latest modification fortifies the newspaper’s defenses as it purportedly reevaluates a potential licensing agreement with OpenAI.. According to NPR, meetings between the two entities have grown “contentious,” casting doubt on whether an agreement will be reached.

A major concern for the Times is that AI tools like ChatGPT could potentially become competitors by creating text that answers questions based on the original reporting and writing of the newspaper’s staff.

OpenAI would likely have to claim “fair use” of all web content it has used to train tools like ChatGPT. This would require proving that copying the Times’ content to craft ChatGPT responses does not compete with the newspaper. Experts suggest this could be challenging, particularly as the AI tool could replace the Times’ website as a source of its reporting for some users.

This case underlines the growing tension between news organizations and AI companies over the use of copyrighted material. Last month, the Associated Press became one of the first news organizations to sign a licensing deal with OpenAI. However, many news organizations are voicing concerns about their material being used by AI companies without permission or payment.

As we wait to see how this potential lawsuit unfolds, it’s clear that the outcome could shape the future of AI and copyright law.