The Authors Guild, America’s largest professional organization for writers, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of 17 prominent writers, including George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, Jodi Picoult, and John Grisham, against OpenAI for infringing their copyright for the purpose of training its popular ChatGPT chatbot.
As per the complaint, OpenAI is alleged to have “wholesale copied plaintiffs’ works without permission or compensation” and then integrated these copyrighted materials into large language models.
The lawsuit emphasizes that these authors rely on their creative works for their livelihoods. However, OpenAI’s large language models (LLMs) pose a threat to the livelihoods of fiction writers by enabling the automatic and cost-free (or very inexpensive) generation of text that would typically require payment to professionals.
The authors express concerns that OpenAI’s LLMs could lead to the creation of derivative works that mimic, summarize or rephrase their books, potentially undermining their market.
The complaint suggests that OpenAI could have trained its language models using public domain works instead of incorporating copyrighted material without acquiring the necessary licensing rights.
In response, an OpenAI spokesperson issued a statement to The Verge, expressing optimism about ongoing constructive dialogues with creators worldwide, including the Authors’ Guild. The company is working cooperatively to understand and address the concerns raised by authors about artificial intelligence.
This lawsuit is the most recent in a series of legal actions against OpenAI by well-known authors, all alleging copyright infringement. In September 2022, Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and others sued OpenAI for utilizing their books in training its language models. Comedian Sarah Silverman, as well as authors Christopher Golden and Richard Kadrey, pursued legal action against OpenAI and Meta, while Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad filed a complaint against OpenAI in June.