Microsoft accuses the New York Times of doom-mongering in OpenAI lawsuit

The media organization is asking the court to dismiss key elements in The Times' lawsuit.


Microsoft has filed a motion seeking to dismiss key parts of a lawsuit The New York Times filed against the company and Open AI, accusing them of copyright infringement. If you'll recall, The Times sued both companies for using its published articles to train their GPT large language models (LLMs) without permission and compensation. In its filing, the company has accused The Times of pushing "doomsday futurology" by claiming that AI technologies pose a threat to independent journalism. It follows OpenAI's court filing from late February that's also seeking to dismiss some important elements on the case.

Like OpenAI before it, Microsoft accused The Times of crafting "unrealistic prompts" in an effort to "coax the GPT-based tools" to spit out responses matching its content. It also compared the media organization's lawsuit to Hollywood studios' efforts to " stop a groundbreaking new technology:" The VCR. Instead of destroying Hollywood, Microsoft explained, the VCR helped the entertainment industry flourish by opening up revenue streams. LLMs are a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, it continued, and Microsoft collaborated with OpenAI to "help bring their extraordinary power to the public" because it "firmly believes in LLMs' capacity to improve the way people live and work."

The company is asking the court to dismiss three claims, including one saying it's liable for end-user copyright infringement through the use of GPT-based tools and another that says it violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Microsoft also wants the court to dismiss the element of the case wherein The Times accused it of misappropriating time-sensitive breaking news and consumer purchasing recommendations. As an example, The Times argued in its lawsuit that it will lose revenue if users ask ChatGPT to research articles on Wirecutter, which the news company owns, because potential buyers will no longer click on its referral links. But that's "mere speculation about what The Times apparently fears might happen," and it didn't give a single real-world example in its complaint, Microsoft said.

"Microsoft doesn't dispute that it worked with OpenAI to copy millions of The Times's works without its permission to build its tools," Ian Crosby, lead counsel for The Times, told the publication." Instead, it oddly compares L.L.M.s to the VCR even though VCR makers never argued that it was necessary to engage in massive copyright infringement to build their products."

OpenAI and Microsoft are facing more lawsuits related to the content used to train the former's LLMs other than this particular one. Nonfiction writers and fiction authors, including Michael Chabon, George R.R. Martin, John Grisham and Jodi Picoult, accused the companies of stealing their work for AI training. More recently, The Intercept, Raw Story and AlterNet filed separate lawsuits against the company, because ChatGPT allegedly reproduces their content "verbatim or nearly verbatim" while removing proper attribution.