AI raises complicated questions about authorship

By Susan D’Agostino

Not long ago, readers who wanted access to original New York Times reporting generally had one option—access the stories via a paid subscription to the newspaper’s website or print edition. But OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT in late 2022 changed the news-consumption landscape.

Now, readers can ask the bot to report on the newspaper’s (earlier) coverage, which diminishes incentives to visit its site. As a result, The New York Times is considering legal action against OpenAI, as reported by NPR. The move echoes recent open letters, social media posts and lawsuits from authors, academic publishers and others seeking to protect their intellectual property rights from generative AI tools.

Large language models are trained on data—text, images, audio and video—much of which is scraped from the internet. Copyright laws are designed to ensure that authors maintain control over the ownership, use and distribution of their work. But machines are producing stories, art and music faster than lawmakers can issue policy statements and judges can adjudicate cases.

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