8 Daily Newspapers Sue OpenAI and Microsoft Over A.I.


Eight daily newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital sued OpenAI and Microsoft on Tuesday, accusing the tech companies of illegally using news articles to power their A.I. chatbots.

The publications — The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, 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 — filed the complaint in federal court in the U.S. Southern District of New York. All are owned by MediaNews Group or Tribune Publishing, subsidiaries of Alden, the country’s second-largest newspaper operator.

In the complaint, the publications accuse OpenAI and Microsoft of using millions of copyrighted articles without permission to train and feed their generative A.I. products, including ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot. The lawsuit does not demand specific monetary damages, but it asks for a jury trial and said the publishers were owed compensation from the use of the content.

The complaint said the chatbots regularly surfaced the entire text of articles behind subscription paywalls for users and often did not prominently link back to the source. This, it said, reduced the need for readers to pay subscriptions to support local newspapers and deprived the publishers of revenue both from subscriptions and from licensing their content elsewhere.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars gathering information and reporting news at our publications, and we can’t allow OpenAI and Microsoft to expand the Big Tech playbook of stealing our work to build their own businesses at our expense,” Frank Pine, the executive editor overseeing Alden’s newspapers, said in a statement.

An OpenAI spokeswoman said in a statement that the company was “not previously aware” of Alden’s concerns but was engaged in partnerships and conversations with many news organizations to explore opportunities.

“Along with our news partners, we see immense potential for A.I. tools like ChatGPT to deepen publishers’ relationships with readers and enhance the news experience,” she said.

A Microsoft spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit adds to a fight over the use of data to power generative A.I. Online information, including articles, Wikipedia posts and other data, has increasingly become the lifeblood of the booming industry. A recent investigation by The New York Times found that numerous tech companies, in their push to keep pace, had ignored policies and debated skirting copyright law in an effort to obtain as much data as possible to train chatbots.

Publishers have paid attention to the use of their content. In December, The Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft, accusing them of using copyrighted articles to train chatbots that then competed with the paper as a source of news and information. Microsoft has sought to have parts of that lawsuit dismissed. It also argued that The Times had not shown actual harm and that the large language models that drive chatbots had not replaced the market for news articles. OpenAI has filed a similar argument.

Other publications have sought to make deals with the tech companies for compensation. The Financial Times, which is owned by the Japanese company Nikkei, said on Monday that it had reached a deal with OpenAI to allow it to use Financial Times content to train its AI chatbots. The Financial Times did not disclose the terms of the deal.

OpenAI has also struck agreements with Axel Springer, the German publishing giant that owns Business Insider and Politico; The Associated Press; and Le Monde, the French news outlet.

The lawsuit from the Alden newspapers, filed by the law firm Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, accuses OpenAI and Microsoft of copyright infringement, unfair competition by misappropriation and trademark dilution. The newspapers say the chatbots falsely credited the publications for inaccurate or misleading reporting, “tarnishing the newspapers’ reputations and spreading dangerous information.”

One example included ChatGPT’s response to a query about which infant lounger The Chicago Tribune recommended. ChatGPT, according to the complaint, responded that The Tribune recommended the Boppy Newborn Lounger, a product that was recalled after it was linked to infant deaths and that the newspaper had never recommended.

In a separate incident, an A.I. chatbot claimed that The Denver Post had published research indicating that smoking could potentially cure asthma, a complete fabrication, the complaint said.

“This issue is not just a business problem for a handful of newspapers or the newspaper industry at large,” the lawsuit said. “It is a critical issue for civic life in America.”



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