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11 Authors Join Lawsuit Against OpenAI and Microsoft

A group of 11 nonfiction authors, including Pulitzer Prize winners Taylor Branch, Stacy Schiff and Kai Bird, have joined a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court accuses the two tech firms of misusing the authors’ books to train OpenAI’s popular chatbot, ChatGPT, and other artificial intelligence (AI) software, Reuters reported Wednesday (Dec. 20).

The lawsuit alleges copyright infringement and seeks monetary damages as well as an order for the companies to cease infringing on the authors’ copyrights, according to the report.

The authors claim that OpenAI and Microsoft have used their works without permission to train OpenAI’s GPT large language models (LLMs), the report said. The lawsuit states that the companies “scraped” the authors’ works and other copyrighted material from the internet to teach their AI models how to respond to human text prompts.

The authors argue that this unauthorized use of their work constitutes copyright infringement, per the report.

This lawsuit, which was originally brought in November by writer and editor Julian Sancton, marks the first time that Microsoft has been named as a defendant in an author lawsuit against OpenAI, according to the report.

Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and integrated its systems into its products, the report said. The authors assert that Microsoft has been “deeply involved” in training and developing the AI models, making it liable for copyright infringement as well.

Several other lawsuits have also been brought against OpenAI and other tech companies over this issue, including ones that include authors John Grisham, George R.R. Martin and Jonathan Franzen, per the report.

OpenAI and Microsoft have previously denied similar allegations of copyright infringement, according to the report.

Microsoft said in September that it will provide some legal safeguards to customers using its AI, protecting customers who are worried about possible intellectual property (IP) infringement.

“As customers ask whether they can use Microsoft’s Copilot services and the output they generate without worrying about copyright claims, we are providing a straightforward answer: yes, you can, and if you are challenged on copyright grounds, we will assume responsibility for the potential legal risks involved,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said when announcing the launch of the company’s Copilot Copyright Commitment.