OpenAI, Microsoft Face New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

The rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI) has opened many opportunities for businesses. However, the risk of copyright infringement lawsuits looms large. Legislatures and courts have not developed clear rules for how these large language models fit into the parameters of copyright law.

Many of these lawsuits involve not the content produced by large language models but instead the content used to train them to respond to human prompts. Some authors have sued OpenAI or similar companies for infringing on their copyrights. A recent lawsuit, brought by non-fiction author Julian Sancton, differs from the previous lawsuits by bringing Microsoft into the litigation. The tech giant has fostered a close relationship with OpenAI, investing in the company and integrating its systems into Microsoft products.

Sancton filed his lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, the federal trial court for New York City. He seeks to represent a class of non-fiction authors whose work OpenAI has used to train its models. Sancton alleges that OpenAI violated the copyrights of the authors by copying thousands of books without permission. He also argues that Microsoft should be held liable due to its deep involvement in the training, development, and commercialization of OpenAI products over the last four years. The complaint claims that “OpenAI and Microsoft have built a business valued into the tens of billions of dollars” based on their alleged disregard for copyright law.

The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction to stop the alleged ongoing infringement by OpenAI and Microsoft. (An injunction is a court order that tells someone to do or stop doing something.) The outcome of the lawsuit may shape the future of not only OpenAI but also its close partnership with Microsoft.

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