Newspapers allege copyright infringement in suit against OpenAI, Microsoft

Eight newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital sued OpenAI and Microsoft on Tuesday, accusing the tech firms of illegally using copyrighted articles to train their artificial intelligence (AI) models.

The New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Sun-Sentinel, Mercury News, Denver Post, Orange County Register and St. Paul Pioneer Press argue the companies have used “millions” of articles without permission to “fuel the commercialization” of their generative AI products, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot.

“Microsoft and OpenAI simply take the work product of reporters, journalists, editorial writers, editors and others who contribute to the work of local newspapers—all without any regard for the efforts, much less the legal rights, of those who create and publish the news on which local communities rely,” the lawsuit alleges.

Beyond initially scraping their articles to train the AI models, the newspapers also contend Microsoft and OpenAI’s generative AI systems “offer their users content that is identical to, or a slightly masked version of, the newspapers’ content.”

The AI models are also subject to hallucinations that have incorrectly attributed inaccurate reporting to the newspapers, which they argue are “actively tarnishing the newspapers’ reputations and spreading dangerous disinformation.”

While the lawsuit targets OpenAI and Microsoft over their individual AI models, it also notes the close relationship between the AI startup and the tech giant. Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI, drawing scrutiny from U.S. and U.K. regulators.

The New York Times similarly sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement in December.

Others in the news industry have instead struck licensing deals with the tech firms. The Financial Times announced Monday it signed a deal with OpenAI, allowing its content to be used in response to ChatGPT queries.

The Associated Press and Axel Springer, which owns Politico and Business Insider, also reached licensing agreements with the AI startup last year.

Microsoft declined to comment on the lawsuit.

OpenAI emphasized in a statement that it takes “great care in our products and design process to support news organizations.”

“While we were not previously aware of Alden Global Capital’s concerns, we are actively engaged in constructive partnerships and conversations with many news organizations around the world to explore opportunities, discuss any concerns, and provide solutions,” a spokesperson said.

“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,” they added.

Updated at 2:17 p.m. EDT

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