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Major newspaper chain sues OpenAI and Microsoft for alleged copyright infringement

sam altman and satya nadella

Eight newspaper companies, all owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, filed lawsuits against OpenAI and Microsoft this week. They allege that OpenAI's chatbots and Microsoft's assistants were improperly trained on copyrighted news articles without permission or payment.

The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun Sentinel of Florida, The San Jose Mercury News, The Denver Post, The Orange County Register and The St. Paul Pioneer Press are among the newspapers involved in the lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft.

The lawsuits claim that both OpenAI's ChatGPT and Microsoft's AI assistant Copilot displayed an uncanny ability to reproduce verbatim passages from specific articles when prompted. Screenshots provided by the plaintiffs also showed Copilot offering complete news stories a day or two after publication without a clear link to the original source.

In addition, the newspapers argue that AI systems built on vast amounts of unlicensed copyrighted text effectively allow the companies to profit enormously from journalistic content without fairly compensating publishers.

According to the lawsuit, both OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft have acknowledged that large language models require significant amounts of text data to train. However, the companies have downplayed any wrongdoing. OpenAI claims that ChatGPT can be manipulated, which can be used for infringing purposes, but it also has significant legal applications.

An OpenAI spokesperson commented (via New York Times) on the lawsuits, saying the company "was not previously aware" of the specific concerns raised by Alden Global Capital.

Along with our news partners, we see immense potential for AI tools like ChatGPT to deepen publishers’ relationships with readers and enhance the news experience

The lawsuits follow a similar lawsuit filed in December by the New York Times, which accused OpenAI and Microsoft of using copyrighted Times articles to train chatbots. Microsoft tried to dismiss parts of that lawsuit, arguing that the NYT had failed to show harm because the AI models had not replaced the market for news articles.

Meanwhile, Axel Springer and Financial Times recently announced that they had reached an agreement with OpenAI, allowing the use of its content to train chatbots.

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