OpenAI and Microsoft Face Legal Challenge Over AI Training Content

In a fresh legal twist, renowned nonfiction authors Nicholas Basbanes and Nicholas Gage have thrown a class-action lawsuit at Microsoft and OpenAI. The charge? Copyright infringement related to the utilization of their literary creations in training AI models.

Authors Take a Stand

This lawsuit, recently filed in a Manhattan federal court, joins a wave of legal actions questioning the AI industry’s habit of repurposing existing creative works. While OpenAI hinted at a $5 million fund to compensate creators for their AI-trained work, lawsuits like these are pushing for significantly larger payouts.

The Core of the Matter

Basbanes and Gage, celebrated for their contributions to journalism and nonfiction, claim that Microsoft and OpenAI employed their copyrighted material, including works used in training ChatGPT, without proper authorization.

This legal move echoes similar actions from other authors like George R.R. Martin and Jonathan Franzen, underscoring the mounting unease within the literary community about the unchecked use of their intellectual property by AI systems.

Seeking up to $150,000 in damages for each violated work, the authors’ potential compensation could reach into the millions, depending on the number of works involved. Furthermore, this lawsuit aspires to represent a more extensive group of authors and creators, potentially expanding the legal skirmish to include thousands.

New York Times Joins the Fray

Compounding the pressure, The New York Times has initiated a separate legal battle against Microsoft and OpenAI. The newspaper contends that its journalistic content was utilized without permission for training large language models, marking a significant step in the broader debate over the use of intellectual property in AI training.

The lawsuit from The New York Times seeks damages and an injunction to halt the use of its content for AI training, along with the destruction of any already harvested data. While an exact amount isn’t specified, the potential damages are estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

OpenAI and Microsoft defend their actions, citing “fair use,” a legal doctrine permitting unlicensed use of copyrighted material under certain circumstances. However, The New York Times argues that the companies’ use of its content is not transformative and directly competes with the newspaper, potentially affecting revenue streams.

The lawsuit also sheds light on instances where OpenAI and Microsoft chatbots provided users with verbatim excerpts of NYT articles, raising concerns about the impact on journalism quality and the challenge for readers to distinguish between fact and fiction.

OpenAI expressed surprise and disappointment over the lawsuit, mentioning ongoing constructive talks with The New York Times. On the other hand, Microsoft has yet to make a public statement regarding the issue.