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Several US newspapers sue OpenAI, Microsoft over copyright issues

Eight U.S. newspapers filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft in a New York federal court Tuesday for violating their copyright to train the technology behind the popular ChatGPT and Copilot chatbots.

The newspapers, which include The New York Daily News and The Chicago Tribune, are owned by Alden Global Capital. This Florida-based hedge fund created the second-largest U.S. newspaper group behind USA Today owner Gannett when it bought the Tribune publishing chain in 2021.

“This lawsuit arises from defendants purloining millions of the publishers’ copyrighted articles without permission and without payment to fuel the commercialization of their generative artificial intelligence products, including ChatGPT and (Microsoft’s) Copilot,” according to the filing.

“As this lawsuit will demonstrate, defendants must both obtain the publishers’ consent to use their content and pay fair value for such use,” the filing said.

OpenAI and its Microsoft backer were also accused of offering verbatim excerpts of full articles and attributing misleading or inaccurate reporting to the publications in certain requests.

Other newspapers involved in the suit were The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun Sentinel of Florida, The San Jose Mercury News, The Denver Post, The Orange County Register and The St. Paul Pioneer Press.

In a statement, OpenAI did not specifically refer to the accusations but said, “We take great care in our products and design process to support news organizations.”

OpenAI pointed to the “constructive partnerships and conversations with many news organizations around the world to explore opportunities, discuss any concerns and provide solutions.”

This refers to news outlets that have entered partnerships with Microsoft-backed startups instead of going to court.

They include The Associated Press, Financial Times, Germany’s Axel Springer, French daily Le Monde and Spanish conglomerate Prisa Media.

The suit on Tuesday closely resembles a case filed by The New York Times in December, in which OpenAI is also accused of stealing content to train its powerful AI.

In that case, OpenAI strongly resisted, arguing that using publicly available data, including news articles, for general training purposes is fair use.

OpenAI also accused the Times of violating ChatGPT’s user guidelines to generate the content that suited its case.

Microsoft declined to comment on the suit.

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