Mar 5, 2024 - Technology

OpenAI's growing list of legal headaches

Animated illustration of the OpenAI logo turning into six question marks arranged in a circle.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Elon Musk's lawsuit against OpenAI is adding to a large and growing list of legal actions that could impair the company as it seeks to maintain its lead in the fast-changing world of generative AI.

Why it matters: Several of the lawsuits threaten to upend the way the company does business and, even if they aren't successful, the courtroom battles could distract the company and take energy away from its business efforts.

Driving the news: Elon Musk's suit, filed Thursday, claims that OpenAI has abandoned its mission by pursuing profit over its stated mission of delivering artificial general intelligence for the benefit of humanity.

  • While Musk's suit got all the attention, OpenAI faces other fresh challenges, including a a continuing investigation in Italy. The FTC has also opened an inquiry into whether OpenAI's business arrangements with Microsoft violate antitrust law.
  • That's in addition to a host of copyright claims from authors and publishers including the New York Times. Another federal lawsuit was filed last week by several outlets, including The Intercept and AlterNet.
  • And the SEC is investigating the company as well, following the drama last year that saw CEO Sam Altman ousted by the board, before being rehired.
  • Meanwhile a potential class action lawsuit was filed last week alleging that OpenAI's training violated privacy and other laws.

The other side: OpenAI is fighting all the cases, including asking the court last week to throw out the Times' lawsuit saying the newspaper had to "hack" its chatbot to get it to return results with full text from articles.

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