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»New York Times« building in New York

Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP

The »New York Times« (»NYT«) has become the first major US newspaper to sue the software companies OpenAI and Microsoft over their AI chatbot ChatGPT. The NYT accuses the companies of using knowledge from millions of articles to feed ChatGPT and thus build a business at the expense of the New York Times.

The lawsuit does not contain a specific monetary claim. The complaint states only that "the aim is to hold them liable for the billions of dollars in damages they owed to The Times for the unlawful copying and use" of their works. The defendants attempted to "abuse the Times' massive investment in its journalism," it said.

The abbreviation AI stands for artificial intelligence, which refers to methods of transferring human thought processes to computers. A chatbot is a text-dialog system based on a computer program.

With its AI chatbot, the software company OpenAI, which is significantly supported by Microsoft, caused a sensation a little more than a year ago. ChatGPT fueled the hype around artificial intelligence with expectations of a digital land of milk and honey for all, to the point of fearing that humanity would be wiped out. Accordingly, OpenAI became the most important start-up in the world with an estimated value of 80 billion dollars, which put the Facebook group Meta in a bind.

With ChatGPT, users can easily communicate freely and, for example, distribute tasks or query knowledge – they then receive answers that often hardly differ from human ones. For this, OpenAI has fed ChatGPT with almost all the knowledge of the internet. From forum posts, company websites, scripts to journalistic articles. The »New York Times« is now hoping for damages. It is possible that a successful lawsuit could find many imitators in the media industry.