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ChatGPT maker OpenAI and Microsoft facing legal fight over 'exploitative' copyright infringement

Copies of Mother Jones are shown in a photo taken on Wednesday, June 26, 2024, in Providence, R.I. The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Copies of Mother Jones are shown in a photo taken on Wednesday, June 26, 2024, in Providence, R.I. The Center for Investigative Reporting. Copyright AP Photo/Matt O'Brien
Copyright AP Photo/Matt O'Brien
By Euronews with AP
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An American non-profit is suing OpenAI and Microsoft for allegedly breaching copyright law by using its material to train their AI models.


The US Center for Investigative Reporting has launched legal proceedings against ChatGPT maker OpenAI and Big Tech giant Microsoft, accusing them of violating copyright laws by using its content to train artificial intelligence (AI) platforms.

The non-profit said OpenAI used its content without permission and without offering compensation, violating copyrights on the organisation's journalism.

The lawsuit, filed in a New York federal court, describes OpenAI's business as "built on the exploitation of copyrighted works" and focuses on how AI-generated summaries of articles threaten publishers.

The lawsuit against OpenAI claims the company acknowledged building an earlier version of its chatbot technology with thousands of Mother Jones links, one of the publications that the CIR runs.

The AI training text often excluded the information about a story's author, title or copyright notice, the lawsuit continued.

Losing control of copyright content, the lawsuit continued, will result in less revenue for expensive investigative journalism and even fewer reporters to tell important stories in "today’s paltry media landscape".

"It’s immensely dangerous," Monika Bauerlein, the nonprofit's CEO, told The Associated Press.

"Our existence relies on users finding our work valuable and deciding to support it".

OpenAI facing numerous lawsuits

Bauerlein said that "when people can no longer develop that relationship with our work... then their relationship is with the AI tool".

That, she said, could “cut the entire foundation of our existence as an independent newsroom out from under us" while threatening other news organisations in the process.

OpenAI and Microsoft are facing other copyright lawsuits from The New York Times, other media outlets, and bestselling authors such as John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, and George R.R. Martin.

Another case in San Francisco Federal Court is being mounted by authors including comedian Sarah Silverman.

Other news organisations have chosen to collaborate rather than fight by signing deals with OpenAI to get compensated for sharing news content that can be used to train its large language model (LLM) systems.

Time announced Thursday that OpenAI will get access to its "extensive archives from the last 101 years".

OpenAI didn’t respond directly to the lawsuit but said in a statement that it is "working collaboratively with the news industry and partnering with global news publishers to display their content in our products like ChatGPT, including summaries, quotes, and attribution, to drive traffic back to the original articles".

Microsoft didn’t respond to a request for comment.

OpenAI and other major AI developers don’t typically disclose their data sources but have argued that taking troves of publicly accessible online text, images, and other media to train their AI systems is protected by the "fair use" doctrine of US copyright law.

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