OpenAI, Microsoft Face Lawsuit Over Unauthorized Use of News Content

By John Lopez

Apr 30, 2024 02:09 PM EDT

Eight prominent US newspapers have filed a lawsuit against tech giants OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement and unfair competition. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the US Southern District of New York, accuses the companies of unlawfully utilizing millions of copyrighted articles to train their AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot. 

The newspapers involved, including The New York Daily News, The Sun Sentinel of Florida, and The Orlando Sentinel, are owned by Alden Global Capital.

Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 17: A sign hangs on the side of the one of the building that make up the Freedom Center, home to the Chicago Tribune, on February 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Photo : Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

OpenAI and Microsoft Facing Lawsuit Over Copyright Infringement

According to The New York Times, the complaint alleges that OpenAI and Microsoft utilized copyrighted articles without proper authorization, depriving the publishers of revenue from subscriptions and licensing. 

Frank Pine, the executive editor overseeing Alden's newspapers, expressed concern over the impact on the news industry, stating, "We can't allow OpenAI and Microsoft to expand the Big Tech playbook of stealing our work to build their own businesses at our expense."

The newspapers reported that the lawsuit highlighted blatant copyright infringement in a Mercury News article on the Oroville Dam's spillway breakdown. It found four consecutive phrases, a sentence, and some phrasing replicated word for word.

The lawsuit also highlighted instances where the AI chatbots provided inaccurate or misleading information, tarnishing the newspapers' reputations. 

For example, ChatGPT reportedly recommended a product linked to infant deaths, falsely attributed to The Chicago Tribune, and fabricated medical research from The Denver Post.

READ MORE: Microsoft Urges to Invest $1.7 Billion to Develop AI, Cloud Infrastructure in Indonesia

Troubled Times for Media Companies

While OpenAI and Microsoft argue that their use of copyrighted material falls within fair use and may have been caused by a 'rare bug,' the newspapers assert that the unauthorized use undermines their business model and threatens journalism.

This legal action follows a similar lawsuit The New York Times filed against OpenAI and Microsoft. 

With ad revenue declining and AI potentially disrupting traditional news distribution channels, publishers are exploring new strategies to protect their content and revenue streams. 

Some, like The Financial Times and The Associated Press, have opted for paid agreements with AI companies, while others pursue legal recourse.

We recently reported that Axel Springer, a global media firm, has teamed with Microsoft Azure to merge artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, advertising, and content distribution.

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