Microsoft compares New York Times to ’80s movie studios trying to ban VCRs

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The legal battle between the New York Times and OpenAI over copyright infringement could be groundbreaking for generative AI. And it promises to be entertaining.

A motion to dismiss filed by Microsoft gives us a foretaste: the major OpenAI investor accuses the New York Times of “doomsday futurology,” the Financial Times reports. Microsoft presumably means overly pessimistic or alarmist predictions about the future.

The company argues that copyright law is not an obstacle for ChatGPT because the content used to train the tool would not displace the market for that content.

Microsoft draws an analogy, comparing the New York Times to the Hollywood studios that tried to prevent the introduction of the VCR, also a “groundbreaking new technology,” in the 1980s.

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The studios believed that the VCR would violate their copyrights and eliminate the market for their content. What changed was access to the content.

The NYT’s lawyer argues that VCR manufacturers never claimed that they had to commit massive copyright infringement to make their products. OpenAI recently admitted that current AI models cannot be trained without copyrighted data.

Microsoft is OpenAI’s largest supporter, pledging up to $13 billion in investment. Microsoft also provides OpenAI with computing power and has exclusive distribution rights for OpenAI’s AI models. Microsoft will receive up to 49 percent of the profits.

Similar to Microsoft, OpenAI argues that “ChatGPT is not in any way a substitute for a subscription to The New York Times” and that it is not possible to reproduce NYT articles with normal use of ChatGPT.

Furthermore, while NYT articles were used to train ChatGPT, they did not contribute significantly to the training of the models, OpenAI claims.

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