The New York Times Vs OpenAI and Microsoft – Here is how OpenAI responded

Updated on January 10 2024
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One of the biggest media company, The New York Times filed a lawsuit against the biggest AI organization and one of the biggest tech companies, OpenAI and Microsoft, respectively.

Well, you might have already heard that news. But in this article, we tried to uncover some shocking facts. Facts about the losses that The New York Times faced and what will happen if either of them wins.

The Case – Why Did The New York Times sue OpenAI and Microsoft?

The New York Times has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging that the companies used millions of Times articles to train their AI models, including ChatGPT and Copilot. The Times says these AI models now create content that’s too similar to theirs, making it hard for the newspaper to do its job and earn money. The lawsuit argues that OpenAI and Microsoft used the Times’ work without permission, hurting the newspaper’s ability to make money and be a trusted news source. Despite trying to talk it out, the Times says they couldn’t reach a fair deal, leading to the lawsuit. 

This case is a big deal because it challenges how AI models are trained using others’ work, and it could impact future rules for the industry. The Times is asking for damages and wants the court to stop OpenAI and Microsoft from using its content to train their AI.

How did OpenAI respond to the Times’ Lawsuit? 

Microsoft has not officially responded to The New York Times’ lawsuit at the time of writing this article. However, Reuters reported (28 December) this response from OpenAI regarding the lawsuit-

“We respect the rights of content creators and owners. Our ongoing conversations with The New York Times have been productive and moving forward constructively, so we are surprised and disappointed with this development.”

Update – OpenAI recently published an article on their site where they expressed their side of the story. In the article, OpenAI put weight on how they respect journalism, highlighting their collaborative efforts with news organizations worldwide to support a healthy news ecosystem. And they accused NYT to hide their side of the story.

OpenAI responds to the New York Times lawsuit

OpenAI underscore their commitment to fair use in training AI models, emphasizing a legal right to opt-out of training process for publishers. OpenAI acknowledged the rare “regurgitation” bug in their models and outlined proactive measures to address it, emphasizing responsible use of their technology.

Open AI also accused The New York Times of not telling the whole story. While addressing their dispute with The New York Times, OpenAI asserted that discussions were progressing constructively until the lawsuit was filed, expressing disappointment. OpenAI also mentioned the fact that while The NYT talked about the regurgitation, they have not showed any example of such occurance.

Despite the legal dispute, OpenAI remains hopeful for a constructive partnership with The New York Times, emphasizing their dedication to advancing the transformative potential of AI in collaboration with news organizations.

How much is The New York Times suing OpenAI and Microsoft for?

The New York Times is suing Microsoft and OpenAI, but they haven’t said exactly how much money they want. Instead, they’re asking for “billions of dollars in damages” for using their articles without permission. The absence of a specific monetary claim suggests that the Times is emphasizing the broader issue of protecting its copyrighted material and preventing the unauthorized use of its content in AI training. That means that The New York Times is not just after money; they also want a court order to stop Microsoft and OpenAI from using their articles to train their computer programs. So they’re trying to make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future.

What does the United States’ law say about use of content for AI Training?

In the United States, copyright law is governed by the Copyright Act of 1976, which provides legal protection for original works of authorship, including literary works such as articles and written content. The law grants copyright holders exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display their work. However, the concept of “fair use” is a crucial aspect of copyright law that allows for the limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

Now, with The New York Times suing Microsoft and OpenAI, they’re talking about these rules.  So, the legal argument may revolve around whether the use of Times articles to train artificial intelligence models falls under fair use. Microsoft and OpenAI may assert that they transformed the content for a different purpose. But the Times disagrees, saying the use goes beyond what’s considered fair.

Also read: Who won when AI Negotiated Legal Deal with another AI?

How did The New York Times Perform in 2023?

As The New York Times mentioned in its lawsuit against OpenAI that they have, it sounds like The New York Times is not performing well financially.

The New York Times OpenAI Lawsuit
The New York Times Lawsuit against OpenAI

However, when we checked The New York Time’s revenue, here is what we found:

New York Times annual revenue last 5 years
The New York Times Annual Revenue Report

The New York Times is having 8.16% of growth in 2022. And here is what NYT published in August 2023:

New York Times published its annual revenue rise article
New York Times published its annual revenue rise article in August 2023

This article reveals that The NYT’s revenue rose by 6.3%

One might argue that The New York Times is losing money on other sources of income. However, we found that NYT gets most of its revenue from its subscribers. Here is a breakdown of their sources published by Visual Capitalist:

Charting-The-New-York-Times-Revenue-Transition
The New York Times Revenue Sources

Hence, there are no actual losses that NYT faced due to the rise of AI yet. However, the lawsuit might refer to the opportunity losses that it faced.

Chances of Winning

It’s hard to say for sure who will win this case: The New York Times or Microsoft and OpenAI. The case is about whether Microsoft and OpenAI broke copyright rules by using the Times’ articles without permission to train their AI models. The big question is whether their use falls under “fair use,” a rule that allows some use of copyrighted material.

The court will look at things like whether the use transformed the articles, how it affected the market for the original work, and the purpose of the use. Each case is different, and past decisions don’t guarantee the same outcome.

It’s a bit like a puzzle, and the final result will depend on how well the lawyers argue their points and show evidence. Since this case involves new technology and copyright, it could set a rule for similar cases in the future. But until the court decides, we can’t say for sure what will happen.

Also read: Amazon’s Mega plan to use Anthropic’s Claude AI in AWS

Other such cases

There have been multiple such cases against AI companies and in fact, lawsuits on OpenAI. One notable case involved a group of authors, including George R.R. Martin and John Grisham, who filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in September. They accused OpenAI of using their works without permission to train large language models like ChatGPT.

These cases highlight the growing legal challenges in the intersection of AI and copyright law. As AI technologies continue to advance and incorporate diverse datasets, the legal landscape is evolving, and disputes regarding the use of copyrighted materials in AI training are likely to persist.

Also read: Public and AI predicting the future of AI in 2024

Conclusion

Well, it is interesting to see one of the biggest media companies suing one of the biggest tech companies of the world. However, the winner of this lawsuit will decide the future of AI.

If NYT wins this lawsuit, this will follow a lot more restrictions on AI innovations. And if Microsoft and OpenAI wins, this will push down the spirit of journalism and might even give rise to misinformation and fake news in the future. 

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FAQs on The New York Times vs Microsoft and OpenAI

What is the New York Times suing Microsoft and OpenAI for?

The New York Times is suing Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement, alleging that the companies used millions of Times articles without permission to train their AI models, including ChatGPT, creating products that compete with the Times.

How much is the New York Times seeking in damages?

The lawsuit doesn’t specify a monetary claim, but it asserts that Microsoft and OpenAI should be held responsible for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages.”

What impact could New York Times lawsuit against OpenAI have on the AI industry?

The lawsuit could set a precedent for how AI companies use copyrighted material to train models. It raises questions about fair compensation for content used in AI training and the potential need for clearer regulations in the evolving intersection of AI and copyright law.

Has OpenAI faced similar lawsuits in the past?

Yes, OpenAI has faced multiple lawsuits related to copyright infringement, including cases brought by authors and content creators who allege that their works were used without permission to train AI models. The outcomes of these cases are still pending.

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