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Magnani Discusses NYT Copyright Suit

March 7, 2024

Tom Magnani, head of the firm’s Technology Transactions practice and co-chair of the Technology, Media, & Telecommunications industry group, was featured in the Legaltech News article, “OpenAI Swings Wide in Its Motion to Dismiss NYT Copyright Suit.” The article discusses The New York Times’ lawsuit against OpenAI, where it accused the AI startup for infringing on its copyrights by using millions of its articles to train AI technologies. OpenAI recently filed a motion to dismiss four of The Times’s seven claims, including claims for direct infringement and unfair competition. The AI startup argued that the direct infringement claim is time-barred because it relates to training datasets that are more than three years old, and the unfair competition claim by misappropriation is preempted by the U.S. Copyright Act.

Magnani told Legaltech News that the misappropriation argument is one of OpenAI’s stronger ones in its motion to dismiss, because The Times “is relying on a very narrowly construed exception to the copyright preemption rule.” However, he added that OpenAI does not produce enough evidence to prove that The Times “should have known that they started training their model databases more than three years ago.” He noted that both OpenAI and The Times’ suits are well-researched, emphasizing that “this is the best argued case we have right now… in which parties are tackling the heart of the matter” of copyright and AI.

Magnani added that OpenAI likely is trying to achieve multiple goals with this motion to dismiss, including to begin to paint a picture of The Times in the mind of the court and the public, noting “I think the other purpose this motion serves is really to educate the judge … the community at large, on OpenAI’s positions on these other issues [of copyright].” OpenAI’s use of non-legal terms like “hacking” in its motion ultimately work to “color the public’s and the courts’ perception of The New York Times,” he continued.

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