Major US Newspapers Sue OpenAI and Microsoft over Copyright Breach

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In a groundbreaking move, a coalition of eight major U.S. newspapers is going head-to-head with technology behemoths OpenAI and Microsoft. The battle lines have been drawn before a federal court in New York City, with the newspapers alleging that the tech companies have been illicitly feeding off millions of their copyright-protected news articles – all without appropriate permission or financial compensation.

The coalition includes high-profile newspapers such as The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, and others. They’ve collectively pointed an accusatory finger at OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging that these businesses have been bolstering their own services by stealing and exploiting the newspapers’ laboriously researched and crafted stories.

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In a compelling written statement by Frank Pine, executive editor for MediaNews Group and Tribune Publishing, the newspapers’ outrage found common expression. “We’ve funneled billions of dollars into pursuing information and reporting news in our publications. It’s unacceptable for OpenAI and Microsoft to appropriate our efforts, enacting a Big Tech strategy of plundering our work to enhance their own profit margins at our expense,” stated Pine.

The other newspapers that have thrown their hats into the ring include Mercury News and Orange County Register from MediaNews Group; St. Paul Pioneer-Press; and Tribune Publishing’s Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel. All these newspapers function under the ownership umbrella of Alden Global Capital.

Surprisingly, OpenAI chose to break its silence with a statement affirming its commitment to supporting news organizations. Despite having been unaware of Alden Global Capital’s apprehensions, the entity underscored its active engagement in collaborative partnerships and dialogues with varied news bodies worldwide to address worries and propose solutions.

On the other hand, Microsoft opted to remain tight-lipped, preferring not to comment on Tuesday’s incident.

This lawsuit is simply the latest chapter in an ongoing saga filled with copyright lawsuits initiated against OpenAI and Microsoft at the federal court in Manhattan. The same court formerly hosted cases presented by the New York Times, other media entities, and celebrated bestselling authors such as John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, and George R.R. Martin. The tech firms are also embroiled in legal tussles at San Francisco’s federal court.

Technology companies routinely justify their usage of vast quantities of publicly available internet content to refine their AI systems, referring to the “fair use” doctrine enshrined in American copyright law. In some instances, they’ve sidestepped possible legal impediments by agreeing to pay for organizational content.

Interestingly, OpenAI previously struck a deal with The Associated Press last year. This arrangement, the specifics of which remain undisclosed, permitted OpenAI to avail of AP’s extensive archive of news reports. OpenAI has also carved out licensing deals with diverse media groups, such as Germany’s Axel Springer, Prisa Media in Spain, France’s Le Monde newspaper, and the London-based Financial Times.