Did NYT Lawsuit Against OpenAI Expose Chatbots Mainstream Legacy Collusion?

February 28th, 2024 5:27 PM

A bombshell lawsuit against one of the largest artificial intelligence companies may have inadvertently revealed that popular AI chatbots are secretly propping up legacy media outlets in their answers.

In a 35-page motion filed on Monday, OpenAI pushed back against alleged “deceptive” accusations by The New York Times that it unlawfully used millions of copyrighted articles to train its GPT-based products, like ChatGPT, one of its infamous chatbots. “The allegations in the Times’s Complaint do not meet its famously rigorous journalistic standards,” attorneys for OpenAI claimed.

The motion followed a federal lawsuit filed by The Times in December, accusing OpenAI and Microsoft of copyright infringement, when both tech companies allegedly grabbed published news articles without authorization. Raw Story, Alternet and The Intercept have since filed two similar lawsuits against OpenAI.

While not yet proven, The Times’s allegations could potentially expose that OpenAI and Microsoft’s Bing may have predominantly, or perhaps even exclusively, used data from left-wing media outlets for training their chatbot models, further explaining why their chatbots issue biased answers.

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But OpenAI scolded The Times for its allegations, raising damning accusations of its own against the liberal rag.

OpenAI claimed that The Times paid “someone to hack” OpenAI’s products to get AI models to generate answers that duplicate content previously published by the newspaper. Moreover, OpenAI further rebuked that to generate the “highly anomalous” results, it took The Times  “tens of thousands of attempts.” 

Moreover, OpenAI accused The Times of abusing an internal bug to come up with the potentially copyrighted duplications. “They were able to do so only by targeting and exploiting a bug (which OpenAI has committed to addressing) by using deceptive prompts that blatantly violate OpenAI’s terms of use,” OpenAI’s attorneys wrote, asking the judge to dismiss The Times’s lawsuit.

The pushback came after The Times claimed that OpenAI thwarted its subscriptions and revenue when it allegedly stole the content. “By providing Times content without The Times’s permission or authorization, Defendants’ tools undermine and damage The Times’s relationship with its readers and deprive The Times of subscription, licensing, advertising, and affiliate revenue,” attorneys for The Times wrote in a 69-page lawsuit submitted on Dec. 27, 2023.

But the newspaper’s claim that OpenAI somehow jeopardizes its business may fall flat. Evidence unearthed by MRC Free Speech America revealed that OpenAI has actually directs users to The Times, which OpenAI’s newest GPT AI model hailed as one of the top-five best news sources in America.

“With its long history of reporting, The New York Times has earned numerous Pulitzer Prizes and is known for its investigative journalism and comprehensive news coverage,” claimed GPT-4-1106-preview, a newer model version of ChatGPT, after being asked to list the five best news sources.

Similarly, GPT-4-1106 refused to list what news outlets it deemed as the five worst news sources, directing MRC researchers to media ratings firms Ad Fontes and NewsGuard, both of which have highly favorable ratings for The Times and other leftist outlets.

(Related: OpenAI Chatbot CAUGHT Touting Legacy Media, So-Called Media Ratings Firms Ad Fontes & NewsGuard)

But the OpenAI chatbot’s promotion of The Times appeared not to be enough for the newspaper, as it now seeks monetary damages. While The Times did not provide a specified amount to quantify the alleged damage—stemming from the alleged unauthorized use of its content—it claimed that using content without authorization proved “extremely lucrative” for Open AI, which is now worth approximately $90 billion. In contrast, Raw Story, Alternet and The Intercept are seeking $2,500 per violation.

“This action seeks to hold them responsible for the billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages that they owe for the unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable work,” The Times claimed in December.

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