OpenAI Sued For Unauthorised Use Of Journalist Content, Again

OpenAI has been hit with another lawsuit for alleged unauthorised use of journalism and online content to train its AI chatbot.

The Associated Press reported that the lawsuit is from three online news outlets in the United States, who are seeking at least $2,500 in damages for each time one of their stories has been used by ChatGPT.

It comes after The New York Times in December 2023 became the first major US media organisation to sue OpenAI (and its main investor Microsoft).

Copyright infringement

That lawsuit had alleged that millions of NYT articles had been used to train the OpenAI chatbot that now competed with the news organisation.

That NYT lawsuit did not include an exact monetary demand, but it reportedly is seeking billions of dollars as compensation. The lawsuit cited several instances in which OpenAI and Microsoft chatbots gave users near-verbatim excerpts of NYT articles.

Shortly after the NYT lawsuit, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in January expressed his surprise, saying OpenAI’s artificial intelligence models didn’t need to train on the publisher’s data.

And now this week, three online news outlets in the United States have filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against OpenAI.

The complaint comes from The Intercept (an online American non-profit news organisation); Raw Story (an American progressive news website); and AlterNet (a left leaning news website in the US).

According to the Associated Press, these outlets allege that thousands of their stories were used by OpenAI to train chatbots to answer questions posed to it by users, in effect piggybacking on their journalism without permission, payment or credit.

San Francisco-based OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment, AP reported.

The three outlets suing OpenAI did not offer specific examples of stories they allege were stolen. But they reportedly said recreations of what ChatGPT used to train its bots turned up examples of material from the three news outlets.

“When providing responses, ChatGPT gives the impression that it is an all-knowing ‘intelligent’ source of the information being provided, when in reality, the responses are frequently based on copyrighted works of journalism that ChatGPT simply mimics,” the lawsuit alleged.

Copyright registration

While the New York Times, as a print publication, is able to pay for a federal copyright registration for all of its material in bulk, digital publications have no such ability, the Associated Press reported.

But lawyers for the three outlets suing Wednesday in US District Court in Southern District of New York reportedly contend that their journalism is copyright-protected even without paying the fee.

The Intercept listed Microsoft as a defendant because the tech giant has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI’s artificial-intelligence efforts. Raw Story and AlterNet did not sue Microsoft because they have a news partnership with the company, a spokesman reportedly said.

The lawsuit asks for at least $2,500 in damages for each time one of their stories has been used by ChatGPT.

“As newsrooms throughout the country are decimated by financial imperatives to cut back, OpenAI reaps the benefits of our content,” Annie Chabel, chief executive officer of The Intercept was quoted as saying.

“We hope this lawsuit will send a strong message to AI developers who chose to ignore our copyrights and free ride on the hard work of our journalists.”

Other lawsuits

The lawsuit from the New York Times (and now the three online news outlets) is not the first time that legal action has been levelled at AI firms.

Multiple book authors including David Baldacci, Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham and Scott Turow, have sued OpenAI, alleging that AI systems might have co-opted tens of thousands of their books.

In July 2023, the comedian Sarah Silverman and other authors sued both OpenAI and Meta Platforms.

Photo library giant Getty Image meanwhile sued an AI company that generates images based on written prompts, alleging the platform relies on unauthorised use of Getty’s copyrighted visual materials.

In July 2023 a Washington, DC judge ruled that artwork created by an artificial intelligence (AI) without human input cannot be copyrighted under US law.

Some news organisations however have reached agreements with AI firms.

Also in July last year, the Associated Press struck a licensing deal with OpenAI, and then German publishing giant Axel Springer also reached an agreement for an undisclosed amount.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

Recent Posts

Trump Media Warns Of ‘Potential Market Manipulation’

Shares in Trump social media platform owner rise after chief executive warns of 'naked' short…

15 mins ago

EU Set To Approve Apple Plan For Opening NFC Access

European Commission reportedly set to approve Apple proposal for providing rivals access to iPhone, iPad…

45 mins ago

TSMC Shocks Investors With Lower Chip Growth Forecast

TSMC pulls back on forecast of global chip industry growth for 2024, stirring concerns around…

1 hour ago

Google Shifts Rules For Contract Firms Amidst Labour Battle

Google removes benefits requirements for contract firms as US labour board seeks to force union…

2 hours ago

Group Supporting Women In Tech Abruptly Closes

Non-profit group Women Who Code shuts down abruptly after losing 'critical' funding sources, in blow…

2 hours ago

Netflix Reports Profits Surge, But Forecast Disappoints

Netflix shares slump as it reports profit surge but says it will stop reporting subscriber…

3 hours ago