According to a report by NPR, lawyers for The New York Times are looking into possible litigation against OpenAI due to intellectual property rights. NPR is citing two sources with direct knowledge of discussions going on between the two organizations.
Over the last serval weeks, The New York Times and OpenAI have had tough negotiations regarding a licensing deal that would have OpenAI pay the Times for allowing its content to be incorporated into their AI tool suites.
But it seems that the two bodies may be at an impasse, and so the Times is currently exploring legal action against OpenAI. This follows sources speaking with NPR who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter.
All of this comes as questions surrounding AI-generated content and copyright enter both the public imagination and courtrooms. Just last week, a federal district judge found that AI-generated content is not subject to copyright protection.
And if this lawsuit indeed becomes a reality, it would be one of the highest-profile legal battles concerning AI. As you’d imagine, the chief concern held by The New York Times is ChatGPT’s ability to generate content. Something they fear is a direct challenge to the work done by the paper.
This is due to the chatbot’s ability to generate content based on reporting by Times staff due to the use of web scraping. So the question is, did ChatGPT’s ability to learn from sources such as the Times violate copyright laws? This will likely be the main question asked during any possible lawsuit.
And if that is found to be the case, then OpenAI can find itself being forced to delete ChatGPT’s training dataset. It would also be likely to face fines due to copyright infringement, with fines going up to as much as $150,000 per violation. With the size of most datasets, that would be an astronomical number.
In the same report, Daniel Gervais, the co-director of the intellectual property program at Vanderbilt University who studies generative AI said of the matter, “If you’re copying millions of works, you can see how that becomes a number that becomes potentially fatal for a company.”
He went on to say, “Copyright law is a sword that’s going to hang over the heads of AI companies for several years unless they figure out how to negotiate a solution.“. Though the Times may seem to have the upper hand, the entire journalism industry is struggling in the digital age, with many going out of business or hoping to find buyers.