Artificial intelligence research company OpenAI said a lawsuit filed against it by The New York Times came as a surprise, following what it called constructive discussions about forming a partnership.
In a lengthy statement issued Monday, OpenAI disputed the merits of the Times’ copyright infringement lawsuit filed last month. The Times alleges OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT sometimes regurgitates verbatim passages from its articles without permission.
“Their lawsuit on December 27 — which we learned about by reading The New York Times — came as a surprise and disappointment to us,” OpenAI said.
The San Francisco-based startup said talks with the Times had focused on displaying real-time content from the newspaper in ChatGPT to connect readers with reporters. OpenAI claims the Times refused to provide examples of plagiarism despite requests.
“Along the way, they had mentioned seeing some regurgitation of their content but repeatedly refused to share any examples, despite our commitment to investigate and fix any issues,” the company said.
OpenAI said it aims to collaborate with news organizations to support quality journalism through ethical use of artificial intelligence. But the Times’ lawsuit is unfounded, it insists.
“We regard The New York Times’ lawsuit to be without merit,” OpenAI said. “Still, we are hopeful for a constructive partnership.”
The Times alleges ChatGPT infringed on at least a dozen articles from its website. In some cases, the chatbot apparently regurgitated entire paragraphs verbatim without attribution.
OpenAI acknowledged the issue but framed it as a rare glitch. The company said its models are designed to apply concepts to new problems, not memorize and reproduce text.
“Memorization is a rare failure of the learning process that we are continually making progress on, but it’s more common when particular content appears more than once in training data,” OpenAI said.
The startup added it has safeguards in place to curb plagiarism and continues improving systems to prevent AI from regurgitating training data.
OpenAI has drawn widespread attention for ChatGPT and other advanced AI systems recently. Its tools can generate articles, poetry, code and other text in response to prompts.
The Times lawsuit comes amid broader debate about how AI may disrupt industries including journalism that rely on creating original written content.