The nation's oldest nonprofit newsroom is suing OpenAI and Microsoft

The Center for Investigative Reporting alleges copyright infringement on a massive scale.

REUTERS / Reuters

The Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s oldest nonprofit newsroom that produces Mother Jones and Reveal sued OpenAI and Microsoft in federal court on Thursday for allegedly using its content to train AI models without consent or compensation. This is the latest in a long line of lawsuits filed by publishers and creators accusing generative AI companies of violating copyright.

“OpenAI and Microsoft started vacuuming up our stories to make their product more powerful, but they never asked for permission or offered compensation, unlike other organizations that license our material,” said Monika Bauerlein, CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting, in a statement. “This free rider behavior is not only unfair, it is a violation of copyright. The work of journalists, at CIR and everywhere, is valuable, and OpenAI and Microsoft know it.” Bauerlein said that OpenAI and Microsoft treat the work of nonprofit and independent publishers “as free raw material for their products," and added that such moves by generative AI companies hurt the public’s access to truthful information in a “disappearing news landscape.”

OpenAI and Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment by Engadget.

The CIR’s lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan’s federal court, accuses OpenAI and Microsoft, which owns nearly half of the company, of violating the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act multiple times.

News organizations find themselves at an inflection point with generative AI. While the CIR is joining publishers like The New York Times, New York Daily News, The Intercept, AlterNet and Chicago Tribune in suing OpenAI, others publishers have chosen to strike licensing deals with the company. These deals will allow OpenAI to train its models on archives and ongoing content published by these publishers and cite information from them in responses offered by ChatGPT.

On the same day as the CIR sued OpenAI, for instance, TIME magazine announced a deal with the company that would grant it access to 101 years of archives. Last month, OpenAI signed a $250 million multi-year deal with News Corp, the owner of The Wall Street Journal, to train its models on more than a dozen brands owned by the publisher. The Financial Times, Axel Springer (the owner of Politico and Business Insider), The Associated Press and Dotdash Meredith have also signed deals with OpenAI.