The Intercept, Raw Story, and AlterNet sue OpenAI and Microsoft

Illustration of the OpenAI logo on an orange background with purple lines
Illustration: The Verge

Three more news organizations have sued OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement, including the removal of author, title, and other copyright information while training AI models.

The Intercept, Raw Story, and AlterNet filed separate lawsuits in the Southern District of New York. All three cases are being litigated by the same law firm.

The publications said ChatGPT “at least some of the time” reproduces “verbatim or nearly verbatim copyright-protected works of journalism without providing author, title, copyright or terms of use information contained in those works.” According to the plaintiffs, if ChatGPT trained on material that included copyright information, the chatbot “would have learned to communicate that information when providing responses.”

Raw Story and AlterNet’s lawsuit goes further, saying OpenAI and Microsoft “had reason to know that ChatGPT would be less popular and generate less revenue if users believed that ChatGPT responses violated third-party copyrights.” Both Microsoft and OpenAI offer legal cover to paying customers in case they get sued for violating copyright for using Copilot or ChatGPT Enterprise.

The lawsuits say that OpenAI and Microsoft are aware of potential copyright infringement. As evidence, the publications point to how OpenAI offers an opt-out system so website owners can block content from its web crawlers.

OpenAI and other AI developers are no strangers to copyright lawsuits, including those involving the supposed removal of copyright management metadata. In one California case, comedian Sarah Silverman and several authors similarly alleged that OpenAI intentionally removed copyright information from their written work when training its models. A judge ultimately dismissed that count in the suit, saying the plaintiffs did not intentionally remove the data. (However, the core of the lawsuit — the allegation that OpenAI violated plaintiffs’ copyrights — still stands.)

A suit filed by The New York Times in December also claimed ChatGPT faithfully reproduces journalistic work. OpenAI asked a federal court to dismiss the Times lawsuit, saying the publication exploited a bug on ChatGPT to regurgitate its articles.

OpenAI and Microsoft are not the only ones under fire from copyright litigation in this space. Getty Images is suing Stability AI for training models using its protected images, and Universal Music Group is suing Anthropic, claiming it distributes and recreates lyrics without attribution.