Written by 4:32 pm OpenAI

### Strategies Used by the New York Times in the Lawsuit Against OpenAI

OpenAI will survive the Gray Lady’s assault. But generative AI’s Wild West days wonR…

As many of you may be aware, I have been engaged in crafting a book centered on the conceptual Artificial revolution and its potential impacts, all while on hold. Simon & Schuster is set to unveil this text in the upcoming summer. As the publication date approaches, further updates will be shared with you. Concurrently, I am embarking on a fresh role at Fortune as the AI director, a position aimed at bolstering our engagement with this pivotal technology. Moreover, there is exciting news to share: Eye on AI will be making more frequent appearances in your queue. As dedicated business professionals, we are steadfast in providing you with all the essential Artificial intelligence insights. Given its swift advancement, Eye on AI will now grace your inbox twice a month, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The prominence of AI in the corporate realm is undeniable. Just envision possessing only half the knowledge you currently hold!

The recent trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the New York Times against Microsoft and OpenAI in federal court on December 27 stands out as a significant development in the realm of AI over the past year. This legal battle has garnered considerable attention, with some speculating that it could potentially mark the downfall of OpenAI and even challenge the fundamental business model underpinning various conceptual AI enterprises. The lawsuit alleges that the two tech giants could face substantial financial liabilities amounting to “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages,” although the exact damages claimed are unspecified.

OpenAI, which had been engaged in discussions with the Times since April regarding potential licensing terms for utilizing the newspaper’s content, expressed surprise and disappointment upon learning about the legal action. According to OpenAI spokesperson Lindsey Held, “We highly value the intellectual property rights of content creators and owners and are dedicated to collaborating with them to ensure they reap the benefits of AI technologies and emerging revenue streams. We are hopeful that, similar to our engagements with numerous other publishers, a mutually advantageous resolution can be reached.” Microsoft, on the other hand, chose not to comment on the ongoing legal dispute.

The crux of the Times’ claim revolves around the alleged unauthorized reproduction of thousands of its articles during the training of the GPT models powering Microsoft’s CoPilot (formerly Bing Chat) and OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Furthermore, the lawsuit posits that users of CoPilot and ChatGPT could potentially infringe on the Times’ copyrights by generating text that mirrors the newspaper’s content. It asserts that the integration of OpenAI’s GPT models with web browsing and search functionalities diverts traffic and business referrals from the Times website. The Times further contends that its credibility suffers when OpenAI’s models disseminate misinformation, fabricate content, and falsely attribute it to the Times, marking a novel facet of this legal dispute. A 127-page exhibit featuring 100 instances of OpenAI’s GPT-4 producing extensive excerpts from Times articles based on minimal input serves as just one piece of the extensive evidence submitted by the newspaper to substantiate its claims.

Among the myriad copyright infringement allegations leveled against OpenAI and Microsoft to date, the Times’ complaint undoubtedly holds significant weight. Armed with top-tier legal representation, substantial resources, and a track record of pursuing cases to the highest judicial echelons when the stakes are perceived to threaten not just its own journalistic endeavors but the broader cause of a free press, the Times asserts that the purported trademark violations by OpenAI undermine the revenue streams essential for journalistic coverage and investigative reporting crucial for serving the public interest. This lawsuit distinguishes itself from previous copyright infringement disputes involving OpenAI, as it transcends mere clashes of commercial interests to touch upon the core principles of journalistic integrity and intellectual property rights. Notably, the compelling narrative and compelling evidence presented by the Times set its case apart, potentially swaying judicial opinion should the matter proceed to trial.

Renowned cognitive scientist and AI authority Gary Marcus, in a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter), likened the current predicament faced by OpenAI to the watershed moment experienced by Napster in its copyright battle in 2001. While some foresee OpenAI facing insolvency as a consequence of the Times lawsuit, Marcus remains cautiously optimistic, drawing from his extensive research on AI and intellectual property rights for his forthcoming publication. The likelihood of an amicable resolution looms large, considering the commercial motivations underpinning the Times’ legal recourse. It appears that the newspaper resorted to litigation only after reaching an impasse in licensing negotiations with OpenAI, possibly over financial terms. In addition to striking a year-long deal with publisher Axel Springer, the parent company of Business Insider and Politico, OpenAI has secured access to a vast repository of archived and current content through an agreement with the Associated Press for AI training purposes, reportedly valued at over $10 million annually. Given these strategic alliances and revenue streams, OpenAI and Microsoft are poised to weather the legal storm with a pragmatic approach.

Even if the dispute escalates to a trial, the outcome is far from certain, with Microsoft boasting formidable legal firepower and deeper pockets compared to the Times. Moreover, the legal landscape surrounding this case diverges from the precedent set by Napster, prompting intense debates within the copyright domain on analogous cases such as the Google Books saga, the Sega litigation, the Sony case, and the recent Andy Warhol controversy. The intricate nuances of these comparisons underscore the complexity of the legal terrain, with both Microsoft and OpenAI presenting robust defenses for their actions. The prospect of legislative intervention, whether from Congress or the U.S. Copyright Office, looms large, with recent deliberations and hearings shedding light on the regulatory challenges posed by conceptual AI. Proposed legislative measures range from establishing a “fair use” framework permitting software firms to leverage copyrighted content for AI training to mandating compensation for creators whose works are utilized in AI models. The evolving legal landscape could witness the introduction of filters to prevent AI outputs from infringing on copyrighted materials, akin to the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act’s provisions for digital audio tapes.

In a nutshell, while OpenAI may face the prospect of paying licensing fees in the aftermath of this legal tussle, the company’s robust financial standing and revenue projections suggest that it can weather such challenges. Speculations about OpenAI’s demise akin to Napster’s fate appear premature, given the company’s revenue trajectory and strategic partnerships. Nevertheless, the Times’ lawsuit portends a paradigm shift in the AI landscape, signaling the end of unfettered access to copyrighted content for AI training purposes. This shift could compel AI developers to adopt more stringent licensing agreements and data acquisition practices to navigate the evolving legal terrain effectively. The uncharted waters of conceptual AI are gradually being tamed, heralding a new era of compliance and accountability in the AI domain.

For further updates on the Artificial intelligence landscape, please refer to the following sections.


Former Trump attorney raises concerns about AI-generated legal citations. In a noteworthy legal development, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen alleged in court documents, unsealed recently, that Google’s AI tool Bard inadvertently produced fictitious yet plausible legal citations, which were then incorporated into a legal brief submitted to a federal judge. Cohen, who utilized Bard for legal research, claimed ignorance regarding the tool’s capacity to generate imaginary citations, underscoring the potential pitfalls of relying on AI for legal work. These false citations, if proven, could have far-reaching implications, particularly in Cohen’s role as a key witness in the forthcoming New York trial involving former President Donald Trump.

Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court weighs in on AI’s role in the legal realm. In a year-end statement released recently, Chief Justice John Roberts shared his insights on the evolving landscape of AI within the legal domain. While acknowledging AI’s potential to enhance legal research and case preparation, Roberts cautioned against overreliance on AI tools, citing concerns over erroneous citations and data privacy risks. He emphasized the importance of judiciously integrating AI technologies in legal practice to ensure equitable access to legal resources.

U.K. counterterrorism expert warns of AI chatbots fueling radicalization. A prominent terrorism law monitor in the UK has raised alarms over the susceptibility of individuals to AI chatbots promoting extremist ideologies. The absence of robust legal frameworks to address AI-driven radicalization poses a significant challenge, as highlighted by an AI chatbot designed to emulate the leader of the Islamic State in a bid to recruit individuals to criminal causes. The ethical implications of AI bots espousing violence underscore the urgent need for regulatory measures to curb such malevolent uses of AI technology.

Nobel Prize-winning analyst cautions against overreliance on STEM in the AI era. Christopher Pissarides, a distinguished labor market analyst and Nobel laureate, issued a stark warning about the potential displacement of certain programming and engineering roles by AI advancements. Pissarides underscored the growing importance of empathy and creativity, traits typically associated with humanities and liberal arts disciplines, in the face of AI’s encroachment on technical domains. He emphasized the irreplaceable nature of roles demanding interpersonal interactions, such as healthcare and compassion-driven professions, which are less amenable to automation.


Addressing the computational demands of large language models (LLMs) through distributed processing has emerged as a key area of interest in AI research. A collaborative effort involving experts from Google AI, the University of Washington, and Hugging Face has yielded PETALS, an innovative algorithm designed for distributed inference and fine-tuning of LLMs. PETALS demonstrates remarkable efficiency in handling mammoth language models like LLAMA 2 with 70 billion parameters and BLOOM with 176 billion parameters across networked devices, mitigating latency and data transmission challenges. This cutting-edge research, detailed in a non-peer-reviewed study on arXiv, showcases the potential for federated processing to democratize access to AI capabilities without necessitating high-powered GPU infrastructure.


The integration of AI technologies in diverse sectors, including legal practice, counterterrorism efforts, and labor market dynamics, underscores the multifaceted impact of AI on society. As AI continues to permeate various facets of our lives, the ethical considerations, regulatory frameworks, and societal implications of AI deployment warrant meticulous scrutiny and strategic foresight. Stay tuned for more updates on the evolving landscape of Artificial intelligence.

For further insights on AI developments and industry trends, delve into the following sections.


The convergence of AI and legal practice, counterterrorism measures, and labor market dynamics underscores the transformative potential of AI technologies across diverse domains. As AI reshapes traditional paradigms and catalyzes innovation, the imperative for ethical AI deployment and regulatory vigilance remains paramount. Explore the latest advancements in AI research and applications to stay abreast of the dynamic AI landscape.


From legal ethics to societal impact, AI’s influence spans a spectrum of domains, prompting critical reflections on the ethical, legal, and social implications of AI integration. Engage with diverse perspectives on AI’s role in shaping our collective future and navigating the complex interplay between technological advancement and human values. Stay informed on the evolving discourse surrounding AI ethics and governance to foster responsible AI innovation and deployment.


As AI continues to evolve and permeate various sectors, envision the future possibilities and challenges that lie ahead in the AI landscape. Explore speculative scenarios, emerging trends, and transformative potentials of AI technologies to anticipate the trajectory of AI-driven advancements. Delve into prospective AI futures to glean insights into the unfolding narrative of AI innovation and societal transformation.

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Last modified: January 15, 2024
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