OpenAI, Microsoft sued by news nonprofit for copyright infringement

Lawsuit by the Center for Investigative Reporting comes after similar claims by The New York Times and other newspapers.

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The Center for Investigative Reporting, the publisher of Mother Jones, is suing Microsoft and OpenAI [Matt O'Brien/AP]

OpenAI and its main backer Microsoft are being sued by a news non-profit in the United States for alleged copyright infringement, the latest in a series of legal cases taken by news organisations against the tech giants.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), which publishes Mother Jones and Reveal, said on Thursday that it had filed the lawsuit accusing the tech firms of using its content without permission in a “rebuke to artificial intelligence and its exploitative practices”.

“OpenAI and Microsoft started vacuuming up our stories to make their product more powerful, but they never asked for permission or offered compensation, unlike other organisations that license our material,” Monika Bauerlein, CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting, said in a statement.

“This free rider behaviour is not only unfair, it is a violation of copyright. The work of journalists, at CIR and everywhere, is valuable, and OpenAI and Microsoft know it.”

OpenAI and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, seeks damages and a court order forcing OpenAI and Microsoft to delete copyrighted material from their training data sets.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot relies on vast quantities of information scraped from the internet, including news sites, to respond to users’ queries.

The latest lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, comes after similar claims filed against the companies by news outlets including The New York Times, The Intercept, New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune and the Denver Post.

Well-known authors, including Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham and George RR Martin, have also sued OpenAI for allegedly using their work without permission or compensation.

While the arrival of ChatGPT has prompted blowback from the news industry, some outlets, such as The Financial Times, News Corp, Politico and Le Monde, have signed deals with OpenAI to share content and collaborate on artificial intelligence (AI) development.

On Thursday, TIME became the latest news organisation to partner with the ChatGPT maker, announcing a multi-year deal to provide access to its century of archives.

“Throughout our 101-year history, TIME has embraced innovation to ensure that the delivery of our trusted journalism evolves alongside technology,” TIME CEO Mark Howard said in a statement.

“This partnership with OpenAI advances our mission to expand access to trusted information globally as we continue to embrace innovative new ways of bringing TIME’s journalism to audiences globally.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies