The Oldest Nonprofit Newsroom in the Nation Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Microsoft

The Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s oldest nonprofit newsroom that produces Mother Jones and Reveal, sued OpenAI and Microsoft in federal court on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges that the companies used CIR’s content to train AI models without consent or compensation. This marks the latest in a sequence of lawsuits filed by publishers and creators who accuse generative AI firms of copyright infringement.

“OpenAI and Microsoft started vacuuming up our stories to make their product more powerful, but they never asked for permission or offered compensation, unlike other organizations that license our material,” said Monika Bauerlein, CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting, in a statement. “This free rider behavior is not only unfair, it is a violation of copyright. The work of journalists, at CIR and everywhere, is valuable, and OpenAI and Microsoft know it.” Bauerlein emphasized that OpenAI and Microsoft treat the work of nonprofit and independent publishers “as free raw material for their products,” adding that these actions by generative AI companies jeopardize the public’s access to truthful information in an increasingly “disappearing news landscape.”

OpenAI and Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment by Engadget.

The CIR’s lawsuit, filed in Manhattan’s federal court, accuses OpenAI and Microsoft, which owns nearly half of the company, of repeatedly violating the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

News organizations are at a critical juncture with generative AI. While the CIR is joining publishers like The New York Times, New York Daily News, The Intercept, AlterNet, and Chicago Tribune in suing OpenAI, other publishers have opted to strike licensing deals with the company. These agreements will allow OpenAI to train its models on archives and current content from these publishers and cite their information in responses generated by ChatGPT.

For example, on the same day the CIR filed its lawsuit, TIME magazine announced a deal with OpenAI that grants the company access to 101 years of archives. Last month, OpenAI signed a $250 million multi-year deal with News Corp, the owner of The Wall Street Journal, to train its models on more than a dozen of the publisher’s brands. Financial Times, Axel Springer (the owner of Politico and Business Insider), The Associated Press, and Dotdash Meredith have also inked deals with OpenAI.

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