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News Publishers’ Association reacts to New York Times’ suing of Microsoft and OpenAI

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FILE – The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays output from ChatGPT, (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

By Emma Stanford of RNZ

The News Publishers’ Association of New Zealand is disappointed The New York Times has had to get to “this extreme stage” and sue OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, over copyright infringements.

Its public affairs director Andrew Holden said it was of great concern to news organisations around the world “in terms of the use of their content to train automated chatbots, and other commercial properties like ChatGPT, in providing answers for people based upon the journalism that has been created by publisher”.

Holden said there were no protections against AI platforms using New Zealand journalism to train their software.

“It’s why the News Publishers’ Association and indeed media companies right across New Zealand are strong supporters of the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill.

“It’s legislation that’s before Parliament at the moment that effectively obliges big tech companies like Microsoft or Google or Meta to negotiate with us and to develop a proper payment for the copyright of our journalism.

“Without that legislation, there’s no particular reason for them to sit down and negotiate with us,” Holden said.

“We put in a submission around that legislation to strengthen up the clauses around AI to ensure that it’s really clear to big tech that if they use New Zealand journalism to develop AI products, then they should properly compensate the companies that have created that journalism.”

The New York Times said it was the first major US media organisation to sue OpenAI, and Microsoft, an OpenAI investor, over copyright issues associated with its works.

Writers and others have also sued to limit the scraping – or automatic collection of data – by AI services of their online content without compensation.

The newspaper’s complaint, filed in a Manhattan federal court, accused OpenAI and Microsoft of trying to “free-ride on The Times’s massive investment in its journalism” by using it to provide alternative means to deliver information to readers.

“There is nothing ‘transformative’ about using The Times’s content without payment to create products that substitute for The Times and steal audiences away from it,” The Times said.

OpenAI and Microsoft have said that using copyrighted works to train AI products amounts to “fair use,” a legal doctrine governing the unlicensed use of copyrighted material.

On its website, the US Copyright Office says “transformative” uses add “something new, with a further purpose or character” and are “more likely to be considered fair”.

The Times is not seeking a specific amount of damages, but estimated damages in the “billions of dollars.” It also wants OpenAI and Microsoft to destroy chatbot models and training sets that incorporate its material.

Talks to avert a lawsuit and allow “a mutually beneficial value exchange” with the defendants were unsuccessful, the 172-year-old newspaper said.

“We respect the rights of content creators and owners,” OpenAI said in an emailed statement. “Our ongoing conversations with The New York Times have been productive and moving forward constructively, so we are surprised and disappointed with this development.”

Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment.


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