Home Microsoft AI CEO claims internet content is ‘freeware’ for AI training use

Microsoft AI CEO claims internet content is ‘freeware’ for AI training use


  • Microsoft AI CEO Mustafa Suleyman stated that all internet content is free for AI model training, sparking backlash.
  • Suleyman claimed using publicly accessible online content has been considered fair use since the '90s.
  • Following his comments, the Center for Investigative Reporting sued OpenAI and Microsoft for unauthorized content use.

Microsoft AI CEO, Mustafa Suleyman, has stated that all internet content is free for AI model training, sparking a backlash. In a CNBC interview, Suleyman minimized worries about AI firms using intellectual property, saying that the practice of freely using publicly accessible online content has been established for years.

“I think that with respect to content that’s already on the open web, the social contract of that content since the ’90s has been that it is fair use. Anyone can copy it, recreate with it, reproduce with it,” he commented. “That has been ‘freeware,’ if you like, that’s been the understanding.”

The tech leader added that unless a publisher or news organization explicitly requests not to “scrape or crawl” their content other than for indexing, AI companies can use it to train AI models.

He said, “There’s a separate category where a website, or a publisher, or a news organization had explicitly said ‘do not scrape or crawl me for any other reason than indexing me so that other people can find this content.’ That’s a grey area, and I think it’s going to work its way through the courts.”

Suleyman’s comment about the unclear legal boundaries for AI model training is reflected through recent legal actions. Following his remarks, the Center for Investigative Reporting filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its principal investor, Microsoft, alleging unauthorized use of the nonprofit’s content without permission or compensation.

According to the docket, AI checker Copyleaks found that nearly 60 per cent of the responses provided by ChatGPT-3.5 contained some form of plagiarized content, and over 45 per cent contained text that was identical to pre-existing content.

This lawsuit is in line with similar legal challenges from The New York Times and around eight other media organizations.

Users react to Microsoft CEO AI comments

Several users posted their reactions on X, disagreeing with the Microsoft CEO’s view on available content being part of a “social contract,” free for use to train AI models.


One user said: “It SHOULD be freeware but now your company is brazenly stealing all of human expression by reducing it to ‘content’,” while another said it was the equivalent of a “plagiarism machine.”

Featured image: World Economic Forum / Canva

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Suswati Basu
Tech journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award. With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google. Her…

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