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US Authors Sue OpenAI, Allege Copyright Infringement

US Authors Sue OpenAI, Allege Copyright Infringement

A group of prominent authors in the United States filed a lawsuit against artificial intelligence (AI) company OpenAI, alleging copyright infringement.

The authors, represented by The Authors Guild, accused OpenAI of unlawfully training its popular AI-based chatbot, ChatGPT, on their copyrighted works, Reuters reported Wednesday (Sept. 20). They include John Grisham, Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders, Jodi Picoult and George R.R. Martin.

Reached for comment by PYMNTS, an OpenAI spokesperson provided an emailed statement: “Creative professionals around the world use ChatGPT as a part of their creative process. We respect the rights of writers and authors, and believe they should benefit from AI technology.

“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 continued. “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 proposed class-action lawsuit adds to the growing number of legal actions against generative AI providers, including Meta Platforms and Stability AI, over the use of data to train their AI systems, according to the report.

The Authors Guild’s lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, alleged that OpenAI trained ChatGPT using datasets that included text from the authors’ books, the report said. The authors claimed that this text may have been sourced from illegal online “pirate” book repositories, the report said. They argued that ChatGPT’s ability to generate accurate summaries of their books when prompted suggested that their copyrighted material is included in its database.

The authors’ lawsuit also raised concerns about the potential impact of AI systems like ChatGPT on the future of literature, per the report. They said they fear such systems could generate low-quality eBooks, impersonate authors and displace human-authored books.

“Generative AI is a vast new field for Silicon Valley’s longstanding exploitation of content providers,” Franzen said in a Wednesday press release issued by The Authors Guild. “Authors should have the right to decide when their works are used to ‘train’ AI. If they choose to opt in, they should be appropriately compensated.”

OpenAI, along with other AI defendants, have argued that their use of training data scraped from the internet falls under fair use as defined by U.S. copyright law, according to the Reuters report.

In July, thousands of authors penned an open letter demanding AI firms get permission and pay writers for the use of their words to train AI models.

Among the signers was James Patterson, who told The Wall Street Journal July 30 that his books were used — without his blessing — to train generative AI to write more books.

“This will not end well for creatives,” he told the media outlet.

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