A legal storm is brewing because of alleged copyright infringement by OpenAI and Microsoft, according to Just the News. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more and more popular, especially with journalists and researchers, it is spurring ethical and legal debates on the information that AI collects and disseminates.

Some folks are starting to use AI as a replacement for “Google.” Writers use it to come up with headlines and content – and even let the application write stories for them. And as AI becomes more acceptable, even attorneys are using it to create documents to present to the courts. The uses for AI are limitless and, in many cases, very beneficial to the user.

But there are some who are not very happy about it. According to Just the News, the New York Times has sued OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming alleged copyright infringement. This, says Just the News, has “long-term implications for the future of news media.”

The thing about AI is that it collects information and puts it together for you. But you don’t know if AI is giving you a summation or direct quotes. And there is no accreditation in the information that it gives you so you have no idea where the information comes from or how reliable it is.

The 69-page lawsuit that was filed on December 27th, 2023 by the New York Times Company and says, “Independent journalism is vital to our democracy. It is also increasingly rare and valuable.” The lawsuit goes on to toot their own horn about how fair, expert, independent and accountable the NYT is – at great risk and cost to “inform the public about important and pressing issues.”

The court document says, “Their (NYT) essential work is made possible through the efforts of a large and expensive organization that provides legal, security, and operational support, as well as editors who ensure their journalism meets the highest standards of accuracy and fairness.”

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The document continues, “This work has always been important but within a damaged information ecosystem (that would be truthful Conservative media) that is awash in unreliable content (when we call out their B.S.), The Times’s journalism provides a service that has grown even more valuable to the public by supplying trustworthy information, news analysis, and commentary.”

I know… it was hard not to laugh through that, huh???

The lawsuit goes on to claim that the defendants’ “unlawful use of the Time’s work to create artificial intelligence products” threatens the Time’s ability to provide their service. They say that the AI tools rely on models that copy and use copyrighted news articles, investigations, opinion pieces, how-to guides, reviews and more. And they do so without permission and payment. The Times also calls AI their competitor.

The Times wants OpenAI and Microsoft to be held liable for “billions” of dollars in statutory and actual damages related to the “unlawful copying and use of the Times uniquely valuable works.”

Valuable? That’s in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Just the News says that the Times is the first major U.S. media organization to sue an AI company over copyright issues related to writing.

When I asked ChatGPT what it thought about the lawsuit and who would prevail, the application said it didn’t have specific information on the lawsuit as of its update in January of 2022.

Seriously? This is AI and it’s two years old????! Not exactly on the cutting edge of technology.

What if someone was looking up medical information? Or a law that changed? As many have contended, if an AI bot isn’t up to date, what good is it?

ChatGPT added, “Legal outcomes can be complex and depend on various factors, including the specifics of the case, the arguments presented, and applicable laws.”

When I asked ChatGPT if it thought it was ethical to take information from other sources to combine it together without accreditation, the application said, “Taking information from other sources without proper attribution or permission is generally considered unethical and a violation of intellectual property rights. It is important to give credit to the original creators or sources to acknowledge their contributions and uphold the principles of honesty and integrity.”

So it sounds like ChatGPT will be a good witness for the Plaintiff.