On Behalf of Eight Local Newspapers, Rothwell Figg Files Copyright Infringement Lawsuit With Significant Repercussions Against OpenAI and Microsoft

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On behalf of eight local newspapers from across the United States owned by MediaNews Group and Tribune Publishing, Rothwell Figg filed a lawsuit today against Open AI and Microsoft alleging the “purloining millions of the [newspapers’] copyrighted articles without permission and without payment to fuel the commercialization of their generative artificial intelligence (“GenAI”) products, including ChatGPT and Copilot.”  Rothwell Figg is also co-counsel in the representation of The New York Times in its lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft.

The case, filed on behalf of clients The Denver Post, The Mercury News, The Orange County Register, The St. Paul Pioneer Press, The Chicago Tribune, The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun Sentinel, and The New York Daily News, was filed in the Southern District of New York and alleges that “Microsoft and OpenAI simply take the work product of reporters, journalists, editorial writers, editors and others who contribute to the work of local newspapers – all without any regard for the efforts, much less the legal rights, of those who create and publish the news on which local communities rely.”  In addition to plagiarizing copyrighted articles from the newspapers’ sites for use by their GenAI tools, the newspapers are also subject to “hallucinations” – when GenAI products incorrectly attribute faulty reporting to the newspapers. Therefore, “[b]eyond just profiting from the theft of the [newspapers’] content, [OpenAI and Microsoft] are actively tarnishing the newspapers’ reputations and spreading dangerous disinformation.”

The devastating impact of OpenAI and Microsoft’s actions extends far beyond the newspaper industry. In fact, “[i]t is a critical issue for civic life in America.” The local news and journalism provided by these newspapers “ensures that government and power are accountable to the people, that taxpayers get what they pay for, that there is justice for all, and that citizens receive timely information critical for their daily lives.”  The news provided by these newspapers is essential to democracy, and Microsoft and OpenAI’s “scraping” and copying of the newspapers’ content – much of which is behind paywalls – threatens the existence of these surviving newspapers.

The eight newspapers “seek no more than what Microsoft and OpenAI claim for themselves: recognition that newspapers have legal rights in their content, that Microsoft and OpenAI are legally required to respect those rights, and that Microsoft and OpenAI owe the newspapers compensation for their unlawful use of protected newspaper content to date.”

The Rothwell Figg team representing the newspapers includes Steven Lieberman, Jennifer Maisel, Jeffrey Lindenbaum, Robert Parker, Jenny Colgate, Kristen Logan, and Bryan Thompson.

You can find additional information on the case through the following articles:

The complaint can be found below.

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