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Generative AI Lawsuits Timeline: Legal Cases vs. OpenAI, Microsoft, Anthropic and More

February 22, 2024 by Joe Panettieri

Some media companies and content producers have filed lawsuits against Generative AI (artificial intelligence) software companies such as OpenAI (maker of ChatGPT), Microsoft, Anthropic, Midjourney, Stability AI and DeviantArt.

Many of the lawsuits involve alleged copyright infringement. In short, the complaints often claim that AI companies illegally train various large language models (LLMs) on copyrighted content from media companies.

In response, Generative AI companies typically say the lawsuits are without merit because their business strategies leverage "fair use" to train their AI models.

Meanwhile, some media companies are licensing their content to Generative AI companies -- though financial terms of such deals typically remain confidential.

The stakes are extremely high for all Internet content producers, generative AI companies and their investors. Previous technology waves -- from search engines to streaming services -- disrupted traditional paid media content models. Critics allege that Generative AI could further pressure content providers, claiming that AI is illegally gathering and leveraging trademarked information. As a result, Generative AI threatens the sustainability of content producers worldwide, critics claim.

The timeline below, updated regularly, tracks Generative AI lawsuits, legal cases, judgments, settlements, licensing agreements, and business outcomes. Check back regularly for updates.

Generative AI Lawsuits and Partnerships: February 2024 Updates

February 22 - AI Licensing: Social media platform Reddit has struck a deal with Google to make its content available for training the search engine giant's AI models, Reuters reported.

February 14 - Music Lawsuits vs. Anthropic: Music publishers Universal Music Group, ABKCO and Concord Music Group allege that Anthropic is relying on falsehoods to defend against a lawsuit accusing the AI company of misusing hundreds of their song lyrics, Reuters reported.

February 13 - Lawsuits Partially Dismissed: A federal judge dismissed most of a lawsuit brought by comedian Sarah Silverman, author Ta-Nehisi Coates and other content creators against OpenAI, the Hollywood Reporter said.

February 12 - Revenues: OpenAI’s revenues have surpassed $2 billion on an annualized basis, as the runaway success of its flagship artificial intelligence product ChatGPT puts it among the fastest-growing technology companies in history, The Financial Times reported.

February 9 - OpenAI Revenues: OpenAI’s revenues have surpassed $2 billion on an annualized basis, as the runaway success of its flagship artificial intelligence product ChatGPT puts it among the fastest-growing technology companies in history, The Financial Times reported.

February 6 - Microsoft and Media Alliances: Microsoft is collaborating with various news organizations to help them adopt generative AI. However, the relationships are not related to solving the New York Times lawsuit against Microsoft involving alleged copyright infringement, according to blogger Paul Thurrott.

Generative AI Lawsuits: January 2024 Updates, Licensing Agreements and Milestones

January 26 - FTC Investigates Generative AI Partnerships: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ordered OpenAI, Microsoft, Google's Alphabet, Amazon and Anthropic to provide information on recent investments and partnerships involving generative AI companies and cloud service providers, Reuters reported.

January 25 - Chip Lawsuit Settlement: Google settled a patent infringement lawsuit involving chips that power the company's AI technology, Reuters reported.

January 25 - George Carlin Estate Lawsuit: The George Carlin estate has filed a lawsuit against Dudesy, a media company behind the recent viral AI-generated hour-long comedy special “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead," Variety reported. The video featured an approximation of the late comedian’s voice and comedy style that was allegedly generated by a chatbot trained by Carlin’s own material, Variety said.

January 18 - Emerging AI Certification?: A new initiative will evaluate and certify AI products as copyright-compliant, offering a stamp of approval to AI companies that submit details of their models for independent review, Bloomberg reported. The certification is conducted by a nonprofit called Fairly Trained, founded by Ed Newton-Rex, who resigned in November 2023 as the VP of audio at Stability AI, Bloomberg noted.

January 17 - Anthropic's Request: Anthropic has asked a Tennessee federal court to reject infringement allegations by music publishers, Reuters reported. Anthropic said Universal Music, ABKCO and Concord Music Group "could not prove they were being irreparably harmed" by Anthropic's chatbot Claude and associated AI training on music lyrics, Reuters noted.

January 11 - Lawsuit vs. OpenAI Moves Forward: A Georgia Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge has denied OpenAI's motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the company:

January 8 - OpenAI Responds to New York Times Lawsuit: In a lengthy blog, OpenAI said it supports journalism, partners with news organizations, and believes The New York Times lawsuit is without merit.

January 5 - Another Lawsuit: Two nonfiction authors -- Nicholas Basbanes and Nicholas Gage -- filed suit against OpenAI and Microsoft in Manhattan federal court, alleging the companies misused their work to train AI models, Reuters reported.

January 4 - Attorney to Know: Matthew Butterick is leading a series of lawsuits against firms such as Microsoft, OpenAI and Meta, El Pais reported. Butterick is seeking to defend the copyrights of artists, writers and programmers, the report explored.

January 4 - Artist List Leaked: Lists containing the names of more than 16,000 artists allegedly used to train the Midjourney generative AI program have gone viral online, reinvigorating debates on copyright and consent in AI image creation, The Art Newspaper reported.

January 4 - OpenAI Content Licensing Offers: OpenAI has offered some media firms as little as between $1 million and $5 million annually to license news articles for use in training its large language models, The Information reported.

Generative AI Lawsuits: 2023 Timeline, Licensing Agreements and Milestones

December 27, 2023: The New York Times sued Microsoft and OpenAI for alleged copyright infringement, claiming that the AI tools divert Internet traffic that "would otherwise go to the Times’ web properties, depriving the company of advertising, licensing and subscription revenue, the suit said," according to The Wall Street Journal.

December 13, 2023: OpenAI inked a multiyear licensing deal with Axel Springer, publisher of Business Insider and Politico.

October 2023: Three major music publishers — Universal Music Publishing Group, Concord Music Group and ABKCO — sued AI company Anthropic, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The publishers alleged that Anthropic infringed on copyrighted song lyrics by copying the text of the lyrics to train Anthropic’s models and allowing their models to generate text that is similar or identical to the copyrighted song lyrics, The Hollywood Reporter said.

August 2023: The U.S. Copyright Office issued a notice of inquiry (NOI) in the Federal Register on copyright and artificial intelligence (AI). The Office will use gathered information to "advise Congress; inform its regulatory work; and offer information and resources to the public, courts, and other government entities considering these issues."

July 2023: Multiple updates...

March 2023: The U.S. Copyright Office launched an initiative to examine the copyright law and policy issues raised by artificial intelligence (AI), including the scope of copyright in works generated using AI tools and the use of copyrighted materials in AI training.

February 2023: Stock photo provider Getty Images sued Stability AI in the United States, alleging that it had infringed on Getty’s copyrights, Reuters reported. Stability AI at the time said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Getty Images filed a similar suit against Stability AI in Europe in January 2023.

January 2023: Multiple updates...

More: Continue to page two for key milestones from 2022.

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