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The suit, which accuses the tech companies of copyright infringement, adds to the fight over the online data used to power artificial intelligence.

A brick facade with an arched entrance bears a Chicago Tribune sign.
The firm behind the lawsuit, Alden Global Capital, bought Tribune Publishing, which operated metropolitan dailies including The Chicago Tribune, in 2021.Credit…Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

Eight daily newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital sued OpenAI and Microsoft on Tuesday, accusing the tech companies of illegally using news articles to power their A.I. chatbots.

The publications — The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun Sentinel of Florida, The San Jose Mercury News, The Denver Post, The Orange County Register and The St. Paul Pioneer Press — filed the complaint in federal court in the U.S. Southern District of New York. All are owned by MediaNews Group or Tribune Publishing, subsidiaries of Alden, the country’s second-largest newspaper operator.

In the complaint, the publications accuse OpenAI and Microsoft of using millions of copyrighted articles without permission to train and feed their generative A.I. products, including ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot. The lawsuit does not demand specific monetary damages, but it asks for a jury trial and said the publishers were owed compensation from the use of the content.

The complaint said the chatbots regularly surfaced the entire text of articles behind subscription paywalls for users and often did not prominently link back to the source. This, it said, reduced the need for readers to pay subscriptions to support local newspapers and deprived the publishers of revenue both from subscriptions and from licensing their content elsewhere.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars gathering information and reporting news at our publications, and we can’t allow OpenAI and Microsoft to expand the Big Tech playbook of stealing our work to build their own businesses at our expense,” Frank Pine, the executive editor overseeing Alden’s newspapers, said in a statement.

The lawsuit adds to a fight over the use of data to power generative A.I. Online information, including articles, Wikipedia posts and other data, has increasingly become the lifeblood of the booming industry. A recent investigation by The New York Times found that numerous tech companies, in their push to keep pace, had ignored policies and debated skirting copyright law in an effort to obtain as much data as possible to train chatbots.


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