The New York Times (NYT) has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. Filed on December 27, the lawsuit alleges that OpenAI unlawfully used content from the NYT to train its AI chatbots. This move by the NYT highlights the growing tension between legacy media outlets and emerging AI technologies over intellectual property rights and revenue streams.
The lawsuit leverages arguments from the United States Constitution and the Copyright Act to protect the NYT's original journalism. It specifically cites Microsoft’s Bing AI for creating verbatim excerpts from its content, thereby undermining the newspaper's relationship with its readers and impacting its revenue sources, including subscriptions, licensing, advertising, and affiliate income.
Broader Implications for AI and Copyright
The NYT's lawsuit is not an isolated case in the media industry's grappling with AI technology. In November, the News Media Alliance raised similar concerns, claiming that AI chatbots were illegally using copyrighted news content and diverting revenue, data, and users from news publications.
Intellectual property and AI lawyer Cecilia Ziniti expressed her view on social media, calling this lawsuit the “best case yet” against generative AI for copyright infringement. Highlighting the personal impact, Ziniti, a ten-year subscriber to NYT and NYT Food archives, noted that if ChatGPT provided articles and recipes for free, it would diminish her need to maintain her NYT subscription.
She believes this case could be a “watershed moment” in the intersection of AI technology and copyright laws.
Community Reactions and Other Lawsuits
The response to the lawsuit has been mixed in the OpenAI developer community.
While some users hope the NYT does not succeed, others find it an intriguing situation, suggesting it's a justified attempt by the NYT. The lawsuit against OpenAI is part of a larger trend of legal challenges facing AI companies.
For instance, Universal Music Group sued Anthropic AI in October over copyright infringement of a vast array of copyrighted works, including song lyrics. Additionally, a growing group of artists has filed a case against Midjourney, DeviantArt, and Stability AI over the use of art to train image-generating AI models.