OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman attends a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos on January 18, 2024.

(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

The Intercept and Other Progressive News Sites Sue OpenAI

The media outlets claim the company violated copyright laws.

The Intercept, Raw Story, and Alternet joined forces on Wednesday to sue OpenAI for using copyrighted content to train its generative artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT.

The law firm Loevy + Loevy is representing the publications, and it has filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. The firm claims OpenAI violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by using copyrighted content from news organizations to train ChatGPT.

"Had OpenAI trained ChatGPT using these works as they were published, including author, title, and copyright information, ChatGPT may have learned to respect third-party copyrights, or at least inform ChatGPT users that it was providing responses that were based on the copyrighted works of others. Instead, OpenAI removed that information from its ChatGPT training sets, in violation of the DMCA," the firm said in a statement.

OpenAI is facing multiple lawsuits over its use of copyrighted material, including from comedian Sarah Silverman and The New York Times. The Times lawsuit also references violations of the DMCA. OpenAI recently claimed the Times "hacked" ChatGPT to get it to reproduce its copyrighted content.

Publications like the The Associated Press have formed partnerships with OpenAI where they license their work to the company, rather than suing them over the use of copyrighted content. According to the AI-based text analysis company Copyleaks, approximately 60% of the content generated by ChatGPT-3.5 is plagiarized.

OpenAI argues its actions fall under "fair use." In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court let a lower court ruling stand that said Google had not violated copyright laws by digitizing millions of books, so OpenAI may have a shot at winning with that kind of argument. It remains to be seen if any of the lawsuits against the company will make their way to the Supreme Court.

"Developers like OpenAI have garnered billions in investment and revenue because of AI products fundamentally created with and trained on copyright-protected material," said Loevy + Loevy partner Matt Topic, who represents the news organizations in the suits."The Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits the removal of author, title, and copyright notice when there is reason to know it would conceal or facilitate copyright infringement, and unlike traditional copyright infringement claims, it does not require creators to incur the copyright registration fees that often make traditional copyright infringement suits cost prohibitive given the massive scale of OpenAI's infringement."

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