A group of prominent U.S. writers, including Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham, George R.R. Martin and Jodi Picoult are suing ChatGPT-maker OpenAI over alleged copyright infringement in using their work to train AI chatbots.
The class-action lawsuit was filed by the Authors Guild in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday and includes David Baldacci, Sylvia Day, Jonathan Franzen and Elin Hilderbrand among others.
The authors alleged in the lawsuit that it was a “flagrant and harmful infringements of plaintiffs’ registered copyrights” and called the ChatGPT program a “massive commercial enterprise” that is reliant upon “systematic theft on a mass scale.”
They alleged that OpenAI did so “without permission or consideration … then fed Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works into their ‘large language models’ or ‘LLMs,’ algorithms designed to output human-seeming text responses to users’ prompts and queries.”
The proposed lawsuit is one of a bunch of recent legal actions against organisations behind well-known generative AI tools, including enormous language models and image-generation models. In July, two writers filed a similar lawsuit against OpenAI, charging that their books were used to train the company’s chatbot without their permission.
Getty Images sued Stability AI in February, alleging that the company behind the viral text-to-picture generator replicated 12 million of its pictures for training. In January, Stability AI, Midjourney and DeviantArt were hit with a lawsuit over copyright claims in their AI picture generators.
Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI are engaged in a class-action lawsuit, filed in November, which alleges that the companies scraped licensed code to train their code generators. There are few other generative AI-based lawsuits.
“These algorithms are at the heart of Defendants’ massive commercial enterprise,” the Authors Guild’s filing stated. “And at the heart of these algorithms is systematic theft on a mass scale.”
“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.,” Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger said in a statement. Extraordinary books are by and large written by the people who “spend their lives learning and perfecting their craft”. To safeguard our literature, writers should have control over how their works are used by generative AI.
Meanwhile, an OpenAI spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday that the company respects the privileges of writers and authors believe they should benefit from AI.
“We’re having productive conversations with many creators around the world, including the Authors Guild, and have been working cooperatively to understand and discuss their concerns about AI,” the statement said. It added they were hopeful of finding useful ways of cooperating to assist people with using new technology in a “rich content ecosystem”.