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AI’s future could hinge on one thorny legal question


 

A lawsuit accuses OpenAI and Microsoft of violating the New York Times’s copyright. But the law is anything but clear

 

If a media outlet copied a bunch of New York Times stories and posted them on its site that would probably be seen as a blatant violation of the Times’s copyright. But what about when a tech company copies those same articles, combines them with countless other copied works, and uses them to train an AI Chabot capable of conversing on almost any topic — including the ones it learned about from the Times? That’s the legal question at the heart of a lawsuit the Times filed against OpenAI and Microsoft in federal court last week, alleging that the tech firms illegally used “millions” of copyrighted Times articles to help develop the AI models behind tools such as ChatGPT and Bing. It’s the latest, and some believe the strongest, in a bevy of active lawsuits alleging that various tech and artificial intelligence companies have violated the intellectual property of media companies, photography sites, book authors and artists.

 
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