New York Times Lawsuit casts Uncertainty over ChatGPT and its Healthcare Applications

By Brian Murphy

An important update on the development of artificial intelligence, specifically the generative AI tool ChatGPT which was the subject of a recent episode of Off the Record.

The New York Times has sued ChatGPT developer OpenAI and its parent company Microsoft.

The Times is seeking unspecified “billions” in restitution and calling for the destruction (yes, you read that right) of all GPT and other large language models and training sets that incorporate Times works.

This one’s fascinating. There is so much at play here: Copyright, fair use, the importance of independent journalism, and the nature of machine (vs. human) learning, among them.

The outcome might impact the technology you or your physicians are using in your hospital. Microsoft, which owns Nuance, has a tool ready to go commercial that uses ChatGPT. Should the NYT win this lawsuit, what happens to that product?

(Aside: Microsoft owns LinkedIn. So you might see the ripple effects here, too).

Does the lawsuit have merit? I’m not a lawyer, nor an AI expert. But from my layman’s perspective, parts of it.

The NYT lawsuit makes a pretty compelling case OpenAI accessed its paywall content without permission. The Times lawsuit includes many examples of ChatGPT presenting Times content as its own, without attribution.

Humans read and ingest content all day long, but we are required to cite our sources. Or suffer the consequences. We also have to pay for access to paywalled content.

If you use paid/protected content to ingest into your AI you should pay a licensing fee. Without that, the Times goes out of business.

OpenAI has received billions in funding and is now monetizing GPT-4 with a subscription model of its own.

But, I think calling for destruction of these models is much too far. They are important and are already proving their value in helping to reduce physician documentation burden and other administrative responsibilities.

Others have made the case that hampering the development of these models will put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage internationally.

Who will win? It comes down to who brings the best lawyers to the table and who makes the better case in court. Unless Microsoft/Open AI were to settle out of court, which is quite possible.

Regardless I’ll be watching this one closely.

Following are links to a couple of articles on this subject, my recent podcast, as well as the full text of the Times complaint.

References

Text of full complaint: https://nytco-assets.nytimes.com/2023/12/NYT_Complaint_Dec2023.pdf

New York Times, “The Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft Over A.I. Use of Copyrighted Work”:

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/27/business/media/new-york-times-open-ai-microsoft-lawsuit.html

Techdirt, “The NY Times Lawsuit Against OpenAI Would Open Up The NY Times To All Sorts Of Lawsuits Should It Win”: https://www.techdirt.com/2023/12/28/the-ny-times-lawsuit-against-openai-would-open-up-the-ny-times-to-all-sorts-of-lawsuits-should-it-win/

Off the Record podcast on ChatGPT: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/2BpoXah5bGb

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