New York Times: OpenAI’s claim we 'hacked' its products both 'irrelevant' and 'false'

Media giant's counterfiling accuses AI darling of 'spin' in copyright infringement case

The New York Times has fired back another legal salvo at OpenAI after the ChatGPT maker accused it of manipulating the chatbot to regurgitate the media group's content.

The pair are currently locked in a battle after the publication accused OpenAI of copyright infringement for allegedly using "millions" of the NYT's articles to train large language models.

In its latest filing, a response to OpenAI's moves to dismiss parts of the case last month, the NYT retorts that OpenAI's defense was "more like spin than a legal brief," and says that "OpenAI's attention-grabbing claim that The Times 'hacked' its products... is as irrelevant as it is false."

It also claims that the AI company, in which Microsoft has invested heavily (upwards of $10 billion), hadn't even touched on the lead claim that the NYT's copyright was infringed by pulling its content to train and operate AI models.

"OpenAI," the filing says, "does not move to dismiss the lead claim that it infringed The Times's copyrights to train and operate its latest models."

It adds: "OpenAI's true grievance is not about how The Times conducted its investigation, but instead what that investigation exposed: that Defendants built their products by copying The Times's content on an unprecedented scale — a fact that OpenAI does not, and cannot, dispute."

The filing continues:

...The Times elicited examples of memorization by prompting GPT-4 with the first few words or sentences of Times articles. That work was only necessary because OpenAI does not disclose the content it uses to train its models and power its user-facing products. Yet in OpenAI's telling, The Times engaged in wrongdoing by detecting OpenAI's theft of The Times's own copyrighted content.

The case dates back to December 2023, when the NYT first sued Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement. The main allegation in the complaint is that NYT content had been used in the training of OpenAI's models without permission. In the complaint, the NYT gave examples of content regurgitated by ChatGPT.

In February 2024, OpenAI retorted that the NYT must have used somebody to "hack" ChatGPT to make it reproduce NYT content and denied that ChatGPT could be used to dodge the NYT paywall.

"In the real world, people do not use ChatGPT or any other OpenAI product for that purpose," OpenIAI said. "Nor could they. In the ordinary course, one cannot use ChatGPT to serve up Times articles at will."

Microsoft weighed in at the beginning of March 2024 with a response to the NYT's assertion that the use of GPT-based products threatened independent journalism. In the filing, Microsoft's lawyers likened the dispute to attempts by the Motion Picture Association to stifle the growth of VCR technology in the 1980s and described the NYT's allegations as "doomsday futurology."

At the time, Ian Crosby, lead counsel for the NYT, 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.

"Instead, it oddly compares LLMs to the VCR even though VCR makers never argued that it was necessary to engage in massive copyright infringement to build their products."

The Register contacted OpenAI for its response to this latest filing and will update this article should the company respond. ®

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