Several major U.S. authors represented by the Authors Guild have sued ChatGPT creator OpenAI, accusing it of training the bot on copyrighted works without permission.
The class-action suit alleges OpenAI engaged in “flagrant and harmful infringements of plaintiffs’ registered copyrights,” and joins a multitude of pending lawsuits targeting Open AI, Meta Platforms and Stability AI over the use of copyrighted data to train machine learning programs, potentially obtained through illegal book-pirating sites.
Authors involved in the latest suit include John Grisham, George Saunders, Sylvia Day and “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin. The lawsuit specifically cites an “infringing, unauthorized” generation of an outline for a “Game of Thrones” prequel using characters from Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series.
The suit also states that ChatGPT generates accurate summaries of authors’ books when prompted, suggesting their text is in its database.
“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 Wednesday statement. “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.”
A spokesperson for OpenAI said the company respects the rights of authors and is having “productive conversations” with creators, including the Authors Guild.
“We’re optimistic we will continue to find mutually beneficial ways to work together to help people utilize new technology in a rich content ecosystem,” the company said in the statement.
OpenAI is financially backed by Microsoft, and is currently facing several lawsuits worldwide, including by The New York Times and the European Union. Last month, OpenAI asked a federal judge to dismiss similar lawsuits filed in California by comedian Sarah Silverman and author Paul Tremblay, claiming the development of language models and AI were protected under fair use.
“This case is merely the beginning of our battle to defend authors from theft by OpenAI and other generative AI,” said Authors Guild president and class representative Maya Shanbhag Lang. “Our staff, which includes a formidable legal team, has expertise in copyright law.”
“We do not bring this suit lightly. We are here to fight.”