April 24, 2024

Artificial intelligence research company OpenAI has made a bold accusation against The New York Times in its ongoing legal battle with the newspaper giant. 

In a court filing on Monday, February 27, OpenAI alleged that The Times manipulated its AI systems to manufacture evidence for its copyright infringement lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft. 

OpenAI Claims NYT “Hacked” AI Models to Generate Fake Evidence

Specifically, OpenAI’s Manhattan federal court filing stated that The Times “paid someone to hack” ChatGPT and other AI models to produce content that gives the false impression the systems are copying from NYT articles. 

While stopping short of directly accusing The Times of violating anti-hacking laws, OpenAI strongly implied that the newspaper abused its products through “deceptive prompts that violate OpenAI’s terms of use.”

OpenAI did not reveal the identity of the individual it believes The Times recruited to access its AI improperly. However, it made a serious charge as follows:

The allegations in the Times’s complaint do not meet its famously rigorous journalistic standards. The truth, which will come out in this case, is that the Times paid someone to hack OpenAI’s products.

The Times’ attorney, Ian Crosby, rebuffed OpenAI’s hacking claim as a tactic to defend using its systems to uncover evidence of alleged copyright theft. This raises the question of whether The Times resorted to unethical methods to boost its legal case versus OpenAI by making false accusations to undermine a legitimate lawsuit.

In December 2023, The New York Times took the bold step of suing OpenAI and its key backer, Microsoft, over the alleged unauthorized use of millions of NYT articles to train AI systems. 

The Times complaint invoked the US Constitution’s Copyright Clause and Copyright Act to defend its original journalism against perceived misuse by AI companies.

The Times specifically cited OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing chatbot as examples of AI services that copy or closely paraphrase NYT content. In its defense, OpenAI argued that advanced AI is impossible to develop without utilizing some copyrighted works. 

Notably, groups, including book authors, visual artists, and music publishers, have also sued tech firms, including OpenAI and Microsoft, over similar AI copyright issues

In their defense, tech companies insist that they use copyrighted data fairly to train AI systems.

They warn that lawsuits threaten to hamper the emerging multitrillion-dollar AI industry. Courts have not issued definitive rulings on whether sampling copyrighted works to develop AI constitutes fair use or if AI outputs can infringe copyrights. AI copyright issues remain legally unclear. 

So, how courts eventually rule on AI copyright disputes, starting with The Times’ high-profile lawsuit, could establish pivotal precedents.

This legal battle has taken on even greater significance with accusations of unprincipled tactics by a respected news leader. The outcome may shape AI innovation and copyright protections for years to come.

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