Authors Guild sues OpenAI over alleged unlawful use of authors’ work

Image Source: OpenAI

In a significant legal development, the Authors Guild, a prominent trade group representing US authors, has initiated a class-action lawsuit against OpenAI. Filed in Manhattan federal court, this lawsuit has garnered attention due to its representation of renowned authors such as John Grisham, George Saunders, Jodi Picoult, George R.R. Martin (novelist of Game of Thrones), Jonathan Franzen, and others. The core allegation centers on OpenAI’s alleged unlawful utilization of these authors’ literary creations to train its celebrated AI chatbot, ChatGPT.

Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger stated, “It is imperative that we stop this theft in its tracks or we will destroy our incredible literary culture, which feeds many other creative industries in the U.S. Great books are generally written by those who spend their careers and, indeed, their lives, learning and perfecting their crafts. To preserve our literature, authors must have the ability to control if and how their works are used by generative AI. The various GPT models and other current generative AI machines can only generate material that is derivative of what came before it. They copy sentence structure, voice, storytelling, and context from books and other ingested texts. The outputs are mere remixes without the addition of any human voice. Regurgitated culture is no replacement for human art.”

This legal action is part of a broader surge in lawsuits targeting generative AI providers, including tech giants like Meta Platforms and AI firms such as Stability AI. The central contention revolves around the sourcing of data to educate AI systems. OpenAI, along with other AI entities, has defended its data collection methods, arguing that they fall within the bounds of fair use under US copyright law.

The lawsuit posits that the datasets employed in training OpenAI’s expansive language model potentially included text excerpts from the authors’ books. These excerpts might have been sourced from illicit online “pirate” book repositories. The lawsuit further points to ChatGPT’s capacity to generate precise summaries of the authors’ literary works as compelling evidence that their content is indeed integrated into its database.

OpenAI has responded to these allegations by affirming its respect for authors’ rights and by noting that it is actively engaged in constructive dialogues with creators worldwide, including those represented by the Authors Guild. This lawsuit not only raises pertinent questions regarding the utilization of copyrighted material in AI training but also carries broader implications for the AI industry as a whole. It underscores the growing importance of addressing copyright concerns in the realm of AI development and deployment.

Additionally, a research released last month shows that 75% of organizations consider banning ChatGPT and similar Generative AI tools in their work settings. 

Written by Gizem Yılmaz


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