Can the New York times stop the machine?

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Vanessa Van Coppenhagen | Consultant | Spoor & Fisher | mail me |


The New York Times (NYT) is taking on tech giant Microsoft (MS) and The Disrupters – the OpenAI group of companies (OAI) – in the New York District Court, alleging that MS and OAI are copying and using NYT’s work and “massive investment in journalism” without permission or payment to create generative AI (GenAI) tools and products, like Microsoft’s Co-Pilot (formerly Bing Chat) and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, that compete with it. This, according to NYT, translates into vast savings and profits for MS and OAI.

The stakes are high. There are hundreds of stories, books, and movies in the “computer takes over the world” genre. In 1909, E.M Forster’s book “The Machine Stops” was published. In 2019, Oliver Sachs, sensitive to the difference between knowledge and information, writing for the New Yorker, explains how in “The Machine Stops“, EM Forster imagined, “a future where people live underground in isolated cells, never seeing one another and communicating only by audio and visual devices. In this world, original thought and direct observation are discouraged – ‘Beware of first-hand ideas!’ people are told.”

NYT and MS need no introduction. According to NYT, OAI is “a commercial enterprise valued as high as $90 billion dollars, with revenues projected to be over $1 billion in 2024”. Its founders, state NYT, are “some of the wealthiest technology entrepreneurs and investors and companies like Amazon WebServices and InfoSys. This group included Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and X Corp. (formerly known as Twitter); Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn; Sam Altman, the former president of Y Combinator; and Greg Brockman, the former Chief Technology Officer of Stripe”.

The unfolding claims & counterarguments

NYT’s claims against MS and OAI are for copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement; the removal of copyright management information (in contravention of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act), unfair competition by misappropriation and trade mark dilution.

NYT is seeking statutory damages; compensatory damages; restitution and


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