NYTimes Sues Microsoft and OpenAI; SQM and Codelco Strike Lithium Deal

Olivier Le Moal / iStock via Getty Images

When you read a book, newspaper story or magazine article and then discuss the work with someone else, have you violated copyright law? What if you happen to be a student and must write a 500-word essay on the material? And what about a chatbot that “reads” the same material and uses the knowledge to answer questions in exchange for payment?

AI and copyright

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The Times has sued Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright violations.

On Wednesday, the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) filed suit in federal court against Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and OpenAI, charging the two companies with violating the Times’s copyright protections. The violations occurred when the two companies used material from the Times to train chatbots that the newspaper claims “now compete with the news outlet as a source of reliable information.”

News publishers like the Associated Press and Axel Springer have reached agreements with OpenAI for the use of material used to train the AI models. The Times had been discussing the issue with Microsoft and OpenAI earlier this year, but no agreement has been reached.

The lawsuit states that Microsoft and OpenAI should have caused “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages [by] unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.” The lawsuit also seeks to have the two companies “destroy any chatbot models and training data that use copyrighted material from The Times.”

There is a sizeable queue forming with the goal of getting paid for their work. The line includes novelists like Jonathan Franzen and John Grisham, photographer Joseph Marino, and the European Union. The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has also begun looking at potential anti-competitive practices in the use of copyrighted material in training AI models. (Wall Street loves these five AI stocks.)

Chile reaches a lithium deal

A South American lithium mine.

Specialty chemicals company Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE: SQM) has reached an agreement with the government of Chile on operating and developing one of the country’s largest lithium deposits. SQM, as the company is known, saw its share price tumble from nearly $99 in February to around $45 in November, largely due to the Chilean government’s plan to create a state-owned lithium company.

SQM and the National Copper Corporation of Chile, known as Codelco, reached a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday on how Codelco and SQM will develop the Salar de Atacama beginning in 2025. The deal is set to last until 2060.

SQM and Codelco will form a new company, with SQM owning 50%-1 share and Codelco owning 50%+1 share. During the first term of the agreement, from 2025 to 2030, the two companies will have equal representation on the joint venture’s board. SQM will create a new class of stock and hold a majority of voting shares at shareholder’s meetings.

For the period 2031 to 2060, Codelco will have a majority both on the board, and the joint venture will have a single class of stock with a majority held by Codelco.

Shares of SQM traded up more than 6% in Thursday’s premarket action at $64.78 in a 52-week range of $44.86 to $98.66.

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