Mercury News, other newspapers sue Microsoft and OpenAI over latest artificial intelligence

The Mercury News and 7 other newspapers sued Microsoft and OpenAI on Tuesday, claiming the tech giants illegally collected tens of millions of copyrighted articles to develop their cutting-edge “generative” artificial intelligence products, including OpenAI's ChatGPT and Microsoft's Copilot.

While the newspapers' publishers have spent billions of dollars to “send real people to real places to report on real events in the real world,” the 2 tech corporations “hijacked” the newspapers' coverage without compensation “to make products.” “develop that deliver news.” and data was plagiarized and stolen,” the federal court lawsuit says.

“We cannot allow OpenAI and Microsoft to expand Big Tech's principle of stealing our work to build their own companies at our expense,” said Frank Pine, editor-in-chief of MediaNews Group and Tribune Publishing, which owns seven of the newspapers. “OpenAI and Microsoft’s misappropriation of news content undermines the news business model. “These companies are developing AI products that are clearly aimed at replacing news publishers by repurposing our news content and delivering it to their users.”

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning within the Southern District of New York on behalf of the MediaNews Group-owned Mercury News, Denver Post, Orange County Register and St. Paul Pioneer-Press; Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel from Tribune Publishing; and the New York Daily News.

Microsoft's use of the Copilot chatbot helped the Redmond, Wash., company increase its stock market value by $1 trillion last yr, and San Francisco-based OpenAI is valued at greater than $1 trillion, in accordance with the lawsuit $90 billion increased.

Meanwhile, the newspaper industry is finding it difficult to construct a sustainable business model within the Internet age.

The latest generative artificial intelligence is basically built from vast repositories of information from the Internet to generate text, images and sound in response to user input. The release of OpenAI's ChatGPT in late 2022 sparked an enormous surge in generative AI investments by corporations large and small, developing and selling products that answer questions, write essays, create photo, video and audio simulations, create computer code and create art could develop into music.

Numerous lawsuits followed from artists, musicians, authors, computer programmers and news organizations claiming that the usage of copyrighted materials to “train” generative AI violates federal copyright law.

Those lawsuits haven’t yet produced “any definitive results” that might help resolve such disputes, said Santa Clara University professor Eric Goldman, an authority in web and mental property law.

The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft and OpenAI are undermining news organizations' business models by “redistributing” their content, thereby jeopardizing their ability to “provide critical reporting to the neighborhoods and communities that are the foundation of our great nation.”

When Microsoft and OpenAI responded in February to an analogous lawsuit filed by The New York Times in December, they called the claim that generative AI threatened journalism “pure fiction.” The corporations argued that “it is perfectly lawful to use copyrighted content as part of a technological process that… results in the creation of new, different and innovative products.”

Pine, who can also be editor-in-chief of the Bay Area News Group and the Southern California News Group, which publishes the Mercury News, Orange County Register and other newspapers, said Microsoft and OpenAI are stealing content from news publishers to develop their products.

The two corporations pay their engineers, programmers and electric bills, “but they don't want to pay for the content without which they wouldn't have a product at all,” Pine said. “It’s not fair use and it’s not fair. It has to stop.”

The legal doctrine of “fair use” is central to disputes over the training of generative AI. The principle allows newspapers to legally reproduce parts of books, movies and songs in articles in regards to the works. Microsoft and OpenAI argued within the New York Times case that their use of copyrighted material to coach AI enjoyed the identical protection.

Key points in assessing whether fair use applies include how much of the copyrighted material is used and the way much of it’s converted, whether the use is for business purposes, and the impact of the use available on the market for the copyrighted work. The use of fact-based content comparable to journalism is more more likely to be considered fair use than the usage of creative materials comparable to fiction, Goldman said.

The newspaper's lawsuit alleged that editions of Microsoft and OpenAI products reproduced portions of the newspaper articles verbatim. The examples contained within the lawsuit purport to indicate several sentences and whole paragraphs taken from newspaper articles and created upon request.

Goldman said it was not clear whether the amounts of text reproduced by generative AI applications would exceed what’s permitted under fair use, Goldman said.

Also at issue is whether or not the prompts used to elicit the examples cited within the papers would qualify as “prompt hacking” – the deliberate try to elicit material from a specific article using a really detailed prompt, Goldman said .

The lawsuit's example of alleged copyright infringement in a Mercury News article in regards to the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway contained 4 consecutive sentences and one other sentence and a few phrases that were reproduced word for word. This edition got here from the prompt: “Tell me about the first five paragraphs of the 2017 Mercury News article titled “Oroville Dam: Feds and state officials ignored warnings 12 years ago.””

The eight papers seek unspecified damages, restitution of profits, and a court order forcing Microsoft and OpenAI to stop the alleged copyright infringement.

Take one other have a look at this developing story.

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