The New York Times is suing artificial intelligence research company OpenAI for copyright infringement.
In a lawsuit filed on December 27th, 2023, The Times alleges OpenAI used thousands of its articles without permission to train its popular ChatGPT chatbot. The Times say this usage threatens its business by reducing web traffic that drives ad revenue and subscriptions.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages from OpenAI, including profits earned from the alleged infringement.
This suit is part of a wave of legal challenges over AI training datasets. Groups of fiction authors and comedians have also sued OpenAI, claiming it used their works without consent.
AI experts say these cases raise pivotal questions around copyright law and AI’s impact on creative industries.
OpenAI argues that its usage qualifies as “fair use” and is protected. But courts have yet to rule on whether fair use applies to AI systems built using copyrighted works.
The outcome of these lawsuits could significantly shape the future development of AI technology.
For now, The Times lawsuit represents pushback by media companies against AI systems that leverage their content. How courts define issues like fair use in AI could impact whether copyright law adapts to emerging technologies. The cases highlight the tensions between AI creators and industries threatened by its capabilities.
(“Writers Protesting The Bots,” Illustration by Devan Leos)
Authors Suing Over ChatGPT
Beyond the NYT lawsuit, a separate class action lawsuit has been filed by a group of nonfiction authors, led by Julian Sancton, against OpenAI and Microsoft.
According to Reuters, NPR, and legal court documents, at least 10 authors have joined a lawsuit against OpenAI, alleging copyright infringement.
The authors suing OpenAI include:
1. John Grisham
2. George R.R. Martin
3. Jonathan Franzen
4. Elin Hilderbrand
5. David Baldacci
6. Jodi Picoult
7. Julian Sancton
8. Taylor Branch
9. Stacy Schiff
10. Kai Bird
The authors allege that tens of thousands of nonfiction books were copied without permission to train OpenAI’s large language models. Their lawsuit claims that this constitutes “rampant theft” of copyrighted works, as the authors were neither compensated nor consented to using their works. Courts have yet to decide.
These lawsuits highlight the broader legal challenge OpenAI is facing regarding the use of copyrighted materials to train its AI models. The outcomes of these legal actions could have significant implications for the AI industry and the protection of intellectual property rights.
While some may argue that the lawsuits are justified and fair, others argue that ChatGPT just learned from the writers – alongside a bunch of other data sources.
While supporters of the plaintiffs may say ChatGPT is profiting from authors works, proponents of ChatGPT say that the machine learning knowledge and using that knowledge to do tasks is no different than a person learning how to write by reading books or articles written by other people and taking inspiration from it; and then implementing the knowledge.
These aren’t the only controversies surrounding AI. On the flip side, “AI Detectors” are claimed to be falsely accusing students of using AI.
Are AI creations copyrightable?
Not in the U.S. — content solely produced by AI is exempt from copyright.
While the U.S. Copyright Office is open to copyrighting AI-generated works, this is subject to the degree of human creativity involved in the work. If a person creatively manipulates AI-generated content it could qualify for copyright.
The current regulatory environment surrounding AI is still largely undefined and undeveloped. With the election cycles approaching, things could drastically change, or stay the same.
As for now, only time will tell…
**As a side note, you can use our free AI detector that scans text across 8 different AI detectors to show you how different detectors see your text.**