The Center for Investigative Reporting Sues OpenAI, Microsoft for Copyright Violations

The Center for Investigative Reporting Sues OpenAI, Microsoft for Copyright Violations

AI Giant Never Sought Permission, Nor Offered Compensation to Use Nonprofit News Organization’s Content

In a rebuke to artificial intelligence and its exploitative practices, the Center for Investigative Reporting, which produces Mother Jones and Reveal, today sued the corporation OpenAI and its largest shareholder, Microsoft, in federal court for using the nonprofit news organization’s content without permission or offering compensation.

The Center for Investigative Reporting is the oldest nonprofit newsroom in the country. It has registered its copyright for nearly fifty years and offers unique coverage focused on investigative reporting on issues impacting a broad range of communities. The lawsuit also focuses on how artificial intelligence’s written summaries of articles threaten publishers.

“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. “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.”

Artificial Intelligence products become more valuable when they have access to a broader range of viewpoints and a wider range of human creativity. The Center for Investigative Reporting frequently puts abuses of power and social justice at the core of its journalism, a focus that makes its content unique and valuable.

“For-profit corporations like OpenAI and Microsoft can’t simply treat the work of nonprofit and independent publishers as free raw material for their products,” said Bauerlein. “If this practice isn’t stopped, the public’s access to truthful information will be limited to AI-generated summaries of a disappearing news landscape.”

The lawsuit is based on OpenAI’s violations of the Copyright Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Mother Jones magazine was first published in 1976, and the content of each issue is copyrighted. CIR has been publishing online since 1993 and its radio show, Reveal, launched in 2013.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in recent months against OpenAI and Microsoft by news organizations such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Denver Post, The Intercept, AlterNet, and Raw Story.

The Center for Investigative Reporting is headquartered in San Francisco, and operates additional offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.