Surge in Artificial Intelligence Triggers Copyright Law Evaluation

Surge in Artificial Intelligence Triggers Copyright Law Evaluation

The boom in artificial intelligence tools that draw on troves of content from across the internet has begun to test the bounds of copyright law. Authors and a leading photo agency have brought suit over the past year, contending that their intellectual property was illegally used to train A.I. systems, which can produce humanlike prose and power applications like chatbots.

Now they have been joined in the spotlight by the news industry. The New York Times filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing OpenAI and Microsoft of copyright infringement, the first such challenge by a major American news organization over the use of artificial intelligence. The lawsuit contends that OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing Chat can produce content nearly identical to Times articles, allowing the companies to “free-ride on The Times’s massive investment in its journalism by using it to build substitutive products without permission or payment.”

OpenAI and Microsoft have not had an opportunity to respond in court. But after the lawsuit was filed, those companies noted that they were in discussions with a number of news organizations on using their content — and, in the case of OpenAI, had begun to sign deals.

Without such agreements, the limits may be worked out in the courts, with significant repercussions. Data is crucial to developing generative A.I. technologies — which can generate text, images, and other media on their own — and to the business models of companies doing that work.