OpenAI Says New York Times Lawsuit Against It Is ‘Without Merit’

Lindsey Held, a spokeswoman for OpenAI, declined further comment.

The Times was the first major American media organization to sue OpenAI and Microsoft over copyright issues related to its written works. Other groups, including novelists and computer programmers, have also filed copyright suits against A.I. companies. The suits have been spurred by the boom in “generative A.I.,” technologies that generate text, images and other media from short prompts.

OpenAI and other A.I. companies build this technology by feeding it enormous amounts of digital data, some of which is likely copyrighted. That has led to a realization that online information — stories, artwork, news articles, message board posts and photos — may have significant untapped value.

A.I. companies have long claimed that they can legally use such content to train their technologies without paying for it because the material is public and they are not reproducing the material in its entirety.

In its blog post, OpenAI said its discussions with The Times about a potential partnership appeared to progress constructively, with a last communication on Dec. 19. During the negotiations, it said, The Times had mentioned that it had seen OpenAI’s technology “regurgitate” some of its content — meaning the technology had generated near-verbatim excerpts from articles that ran in The Times — but declined to provide examples. When The Times sued eight days later, OpenAI said it was surprised and disappointed.

The Times didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

OpenAI said its technology sometimes regurgitates articles, but that was a “rare bug” that it was working to solve. The Times’s lawsuit included examples showing ChatGPT reproducing excerpts from its articles nearly word for word.