ChatGPT’s survival at stake in New York Times lawsuit

On Dec. 27, 2023, The New York Times filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, alleging that the company committed willful copyright infringement through its generative AI tool ChatGPT. The Times claims that ChatGPT was unlawfully trained on vast amounts of text from its articles and that ChatGPT’s output contained language directly taken from its articles. To remedy this, the Times asked for more than just money: It asked a federal court to order the “destruction” of ChatGPT. If granted, this request would force OpenAI to delete its trained large language models, such as GPT-4, as well as its training data, which would prevent the company from rebuilding its technology. This prospect is alarming to the 100 million people who use ChatGPT every week. And it raises two questions that interest me as a law professor. First, can a federal court actually order the destruction of ChatGPT? And second, if it can, will it? Destruction in the court Image: Unsplash The answer to the first question is yes. Under copyright law, courts do have the power to issue destruction orders. To understand why, consider vinyl records. Their resurging popularity has attracted counterfeiters who sell pirated records. If a record label sues a counterfeiter for copyright infringement and wins, what happens to the counterfeiter’s inventory? What happens to the master and stamper disks used to mass-produce the counterfeits, and the machinery used to create those disks in the first place? To address these questions, copyright law grants courts the power to destroy infringing goods and the equipment used to create them. From…ChatGPT’s survival at stake in New York Times lawsuit

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