Eight U.S. Newspaper Publishers Take On AI Giants In BRAZEN Lawsuit

By Jennifer Wentworth | Wednesday, 01 May 2024 01:50 PM
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Image Credit : Photo by John Smith for IT Chronicles

In a recent development, eight American newspaper publishers have initiated legal proceedings against technology giants Microsoft and OpenAI.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in New York, alleges that the tech companies have been unlawfully repurposing their articles in generative artificial intelligence products, and attributing incorrect information to them.

This legal action comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit filed by The New York Times against OpenAI four months ago. The Times accused OpenAI of copyright infringement in relation to its ChatGPT chatbot, launched in late 2022. OpenAI, however, has refuted these allegations, stating in a January blog post that the case lacks merit. The company expressed its intention to support "a healthy news ecosystem." OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, expressed surprise at the lawsuit, stating that the startup had intended to compensate The New York Times.

OpenAI has recently entered into agreements with several media companies, including Axel Springer and The Financial Times. These agreements allow the Microsoft-backed startup to utilize the publishers' content to enhance AI models. Google, which operates its own general-purpose chatbot, announced in February that it had secured an agreement with Reddit, which includes the right to train AI models on the platform's content.

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The group of eight newspaper publishers, however, has taken issue with ChatGPT and Microsoft's Copilot assistant. These tools, available in the Windows operating system, the Bing search engine, and other Microsoft products, have been accused of "purloining millions of the publishers' copyrighted articles without permission and without payment," as per the complaint.

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The publishers involved in the lawsuit include The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun-Sentinel of Florida, The Mercury News of California, The Denver Post, The Orange County Register in California, and The Pioneer Press of Minnesota. They claim that OpenAI has used data sets containing text from their newspapers to train its GPT-2 and GPT-3 large language models. These models can generate text in response to a few words of human input.

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The complaint further alleges that "the current GPT-4 LLM will output near-verbatim copies of significant portions of the publishers' works when prompted to do so," providing several examples of ChatGPT and the Copilot allegedly doing so.

The publishers also claim that Microsoft copies information from their newspapers for the Bing search index, which informs answers in the Copilot. However, such output often fails to provide links to newspaper websites, where readers can view ads alongside articles or pay for subscriptions.

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The New York Times case also touched on the issue of OpenAI models regurgitating information from its articles. OpenAI described such behavior as "a rare failure of the learning process that we are continually making progress on" in its blog post.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has called for the U.S. to establish an AI policy in light of these developments.

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