New York Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming copyright infringement

The New York Times is suing AI OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming that OpenAI scraped millions of its articles to develop its text-generating AI and that Microsoft is using the output to compete with the Times online. In particular, the Times complains that OpenAI explicitly weighted Times material in developing its models with the intention of "wholesale copying" it's style, tone and focus.

The complaint is the latest in a string of lawsuits that seek to limit the use of alleged scraping of wide swaths of content from across the internet — without compensation — to train so-called large language artificial intelligence models. Actors, writers, journalists and other creative types who post their works on the internet fear that AI will learn from their material and provide competitive chatbots and other sources of information without proper compensation.

But the Times' suit is the first among major news publishers to take on OpenAI and Microsoft, the most recognizable AI brands. Microsoft (MSFT) has a seat on OpenAI's board and a multi-billion-dollar investment in the company.

In negotiations, the Times alleges, OpenAI and Microsoft admit what they are accused of, but claim that AI is a "transformative" fair use of the scraped material.

I thought it was a little odd back when newspapers seemed to be interested in buying into OpenAI. I wonder all those discussions were pretexts to get sales to reveal things legal would never admit.

UPDATE: Here's the complaint, in PDF format. It includes verbatim material from NYT stories and, hilariously, the use of prompt tricks to get paywalled content one paragraph at a time.