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New York Times files case against AI giants for copyright infringement 

New York Times files case against AI giants for copyright infringement 

The New York Times ('the Times') believes that independent journalism is under pressure due to the rise of generative AI (‘GenAI’). This type of artificial intelligence, which would widely copy and use the content of publications without permission to build large language models (LLMs), threatens not only journalistic integrity but also the financial viability of news organisations, according to the Times.  

Case filed 

The Times has filed a lawsuit against companies such as Microsoft and OpenAI, alleging that their GenAI are illegally using the Times' journalistic works. These tools, such as Microsoft's Bing Chat and OpenAI's ChatGPT, lean heavily on the Times' content to create substitute products, without permission or compensation. Substitute products are products that can serve as a substitute for another product or service. In this context, we are talking about AI-generated content that could potentially reduce demand for original journalistic works. Readers, instead of the original source (the website, physical newspaper or a subscription), might settle for the free and readily available content generated by AI, which has a direct impact on the revenue and value of original journalistic works. This is an important consideration in discussions about copyright and the economic impact of AI on traditional creative industries. 

Importance of copyright protection 

Copyright is the cornerstone of creativity, also in journalism. It protects not only the economic interests of creators but also the integrity and authenticity of news dissemination. However, with the advent of AI, such as generative language models that can reproduce and synthesise content, the limits of this protection are being challenged. It makes it a lot harder for journalists and news organisations to reap the fruits of their labour and to recoup the investments made. The limits of traditional copyright law are thus challenged; a rethinking of the law in the light of new technological possibilities is therefore badly needed. 

Implications for the future 

The Times case highlights a common problem: AI companies use voluminous datasets, including journalistic works, to train their models. This practice, which does not involve appropriate licensing or compensation, undermines copyright and the financial sustainability of journalistic institutions. Moreover, AI can generate content that is factually incorrect or there can be confusion and potential reputational damage when the style of the original source is mimicked in detail.  

This subpoena from the Times sets a precedent for how copyright issues surrounding AI technologies can be addressed. It also sends a signal of the need to balance innovation with the protection of original works, from journalists worldwide. While certain companies benefit from the advanced capabilities of AI, it is essential that the rights of those whose works are used to train these technologies are protected and respected. Besides direct copyright infringement, there are also concerns about unfair competition, infringement of moral rights and economic damage. Thus, this issue cannot be easily dismissed.  


Further fleshing out the debate on AI and copyright is not without controversy. The legal battle between The New York Times and Microsoft and OpenAI will hopefully bring more clarity. In any case, technology companies should be aware of the responsibility and ethics involved in AI development. Moreover, the far-reaching implications AI can have on creativity, information dissemination and creators' rights cannot be ignored. Hopefully, this case is a wake-up call for legal professionals, technology companies and creative industries to work together to ensure a future where technology and creativity go hand in hand with respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.  

Do you feel that (large passages from) your works are being used by AI models without permission? If so, please contact us to discuss the possibilities together.