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The New York Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft for using articles to train AI

The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft on Wednesday over the tech companies’ use of its copyrighted articles to train their artificial intelligence technology, joining a growing wave of opposition to the use by the technology industry of creative works without paying or obtaining permission.

OpenAI and Microsoft used “millions” of Times articles to develop their technology, which is now extremely lucrative and competes directly with the Times’ own services, the paper’s lawyers wrote in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

“For months, the Times attempted to reach a negotiated settlement,” Times lawyers said in the lawsuit. “…These negotiations did not result in a resolution. »

OpenAI said it respects the rights of content creators and owners and is committed to working with them “to ensure they benefit from AI technology and new revenue models,” Gate said -speaks Lindsey Held. “Our ongoing conversations with The New York Times have been productive and are moving forward constructively, so we are surprised and disappointed by this development.”

Microsoft spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment.

The “large language models” (LLMs) behind AI tools like ChatGPT work by ingesting huge amounts of text scraped from the internet, learning the connections between words and concepts, then developing the ability to predict what word to say next in a sentence. allowing them to imitate human speech and writing. OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google declined to reveal the contents of their new models, but previous LLMs have been shown to include large amounts of content from news organizations and book catalogs.

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Tech companies have firmly asserted that using information scraped from the internet to train their AI algorithms falls under “fair use” – a concept in copyright law that allows people to use the work of another if it is significantly modified. The Times lawsuit, however, includes several examples of OpenAI’s GPT-4 AI model producing New York Times articles verbatim.

Legal experts said plaintiffs would face more serious copyright infringement cases if they could demonstrate that AI tools directly reproduced copyrighted works, rather than paraphrasing the information they contain.

The information industry is grappling with its relationship with this rapidly evolving technology. Several media companies have begun internal discussions about how to use emerging automated tools to facilitate news gathering and production. And some, like Sports Illustrated, have faced backlash for using AI to generate news articles that were presented as being written by humans.

Other online publishing companies have already started using AI to produce huge amounts of new content in an effort to gain Google search traffic and thus generate advertising revenue. These include fake news sites that publish false information. Since May, the number of websites spreading fake AI-written articles has jumped by more than 1,000%, according to NewsGuard, an organization that tracks misinformation.

But the use of this technology also presents a possible existential crisis for the information industry, which is struggling to find ways to replace the revenue it once generated from its profitable print products. The number of journalists working in newsrooms declined by more than 25% between 2008 and 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.

By suing OpenAI and Microsoft, the Times joins a growing group of artists, authors, musicians, filmmakers and other creative professionals who want credit and compensation from tech companies that have used their work to create tools that they believe are already undermining their work..

Some of them, including bestselling authors such as George RR Martin, Jodi Picoult, Jonathan Franzen, and George Saunders, have also sued OpenAI. And since August, at least 583 news organizations, including the Times, Washington Post and Reuters, have installed blockers on their websites to prevent tech companies from removing their stories. But their online catalogs, going back decades, have probably already been used to create AI tools.

“We are closely reviewing The New York Times’ complaint and support its decision to protect these important copyright principles,” a Post spokesperson said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, OpenAI has negotiated deals with news organizations over the past year to pay them for their content. In July, it signed an agreement with the Associated Press to access its archives of news articles. But in October, an OpenAI spokesperson said the company’s practices did not violate copyright laws and that the deals it negotiated would only be for access to content it Could not get online or display links or full sections of articles in ChatGPT. .

German publishing company Axel Springer, owner of Politico and Business Insider, also signed a deal with OpenAI earlier this month, under which the technology company will pay to display parts of articles in ChatGPT replies. And earlier this year, Google pitched to media outlets to create and sell AI tools that could help journalists.

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