OpenAI: NYT Paid Someone to 'Hack' Us Before Suing Us

'It took them tens of thousands of attempts,' alleges OpenAI
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2024 12:10 PM CST
OpenAI Claims NYT Paid Someone to 'Hack' It
The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output from ChatGPT on March 21 in Boston.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

OpenAI wants to see the New York Times' copyright infringement lawsuit against it dismissed, and it laid out its case—and an accusation of its own—in a Monday court filing. In it, the maker of ChatGPT accused the Times of hacking OpenAI's products in order to formulate the substance of its claim. Here's the meat of OpenAI's allegation from its filing:

  • "Contrary to the allegations in the Complaint ... ChatGPT is not in any way a substitute for a subscription to the New York Times. In the real world, people do not use ChatGPT or any other OpenAI product for that purpose. Nor could they. In the ordinary course, one cannot use ChatGPT to serve up Times articles at will."
  • "The truth, which will come out in the course of this case, is that the Times paid someone to hack OpenAI's products. It took them tens of thousands of attempts to generate the highly anomalous results that make up Exhibit J to the Complaint. They were able to do so only by targeting and exploiting a bug (which OpenAI has committed to addressing) by using deceptive prompts that blatantly violate OpenAI's terms of use. And even then, they had to feed the tool portions of the very articles they sought to elicit verbatim passages of, virtually all of which already appear on multiple public websites."

CNBC reports the "hacking" that OpenAI references could also be referred to in less-charged ways: as prompt engineering or red-teaming, which CNBC defines as "a common way for artificial intelligence trust and safety teams, ethicists, academics, and tech companies to 'stress-test' AI systems for vulnerabilities."

Ian Crosby, a lawyer for the Times, prevents a view in that vein as quoted by the Times: "What OpenAI bizarrely mischaracterizes as 'hacking' is simply using OpenAI's products to look for evidence that they stole and reproduced the Times' copyrighted works," he said. "And that is exactly what we found." The Wall Street Journal mentions OpenAI included other arguments in favor of dismissal, including an assertion that the Times' allegations were more than three years old. (More OpenAI stories.)

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