OpenAI’s legal submission argued that these claims displayed a misguided perception of copyright, as they neglected to consider the necessary limitations and exceptions, notably fair use, which provide the necessary flexibility for groundbreaking innovations like the forefront large language models in the realm of artificial intelligence.
A major lawsuit has been filed against OpenAI, accusing the company of illicitly copying copyrighted content from authors to train their artificial intelligence robot, ChatGPT. It also requested unspecified financial compensation, along with statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work.
In filings presented to a federal court in New York on Tuesday, the authors contended that there were “flagrant and harmful breaches of the plaintiffs” copyrighted materials and labeled the ChatGPT program as a “huge commercial enterprise” predicated on “systematic theft on a mass scale”. The plaintiffs point out that ChatGPT conducted searches for each author, including one that accused the program of producing an unauthorized prequel outline. “A Dawn of Direwolves” using characters from George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, led to allegations of copyright infringement.
Authors Guild Takes Legal Action
The proposed class-action lawsuit against OpenAI has garnered support from a group of 17 writers, including notable figures such as George R.R. Martin, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, George Saunders, and Jonathan Franzen, all led by the Authors Guild, a respected professional organization for published authors headquartered in New York.
Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger said in a statement: “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. 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.”
OpenAI Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuits from Sarah Silverman and Paul Tremblay
Back in August, OpenAI submitted a request to a federal judge in California to have two similar lawsuits, one involving comedian Sarah Silverman and the other initiated by author Paul Tremblay, dismissed. OpenAI’s legal submission argued that these claims displayed a misguided perception of copyright, as they neglected to consider the necessary limitations and exceptions, notably fair use, which provide the necessary flexibility for groundbreaking innovations like the forefront large language models in the realm of artificial intelligence.
Another lawsuit is underway, involving OpenAI, Microsoft, and GitHub, with allegations from computing experts asserting that their code was employed without consent in the development of an AI system known as Copilot.
Debate over Open AI’s role
The case contends that the LLM utilized data from copyrighted books without obtaining authorization from the authors, and one of the reasons is its capacity to generate precise summaries of those works. In the lawsuit, it is also raised as a more extensive issue in the media sector that this type of technology is “supplanting content produced by humans.”
Patrick Goold, a law reader at City University, shared that, he could understand the authors’ position in the lawsuit. He expressed skepticism about its chances of success, suggesting that their initial challenge would involve demonstrating that ChatGPT had indeed replicated and reproduced their content. “It’s not copyright that’s keeping them up at night; it’s the specter of AI displacing human workers,” he remarked, drawing parallels to the current protests by screenwriters in Hollywood.
This case is just one in a series of complaints lodged against developers of generative AI, particularly those specializing in AI that generates media based on text prompts, all revolving around the same issue. In January, digital artists-initiated lawsuits against Stability AI and Midjourney, both developers of text-to-image generators, claiming that their functioning hinges on the use of copyrighted artwork.
Author protests against AI have played a significant role in prompting Amazon.com, the nation’s top book retailer, to revise its e-book policies. The online giant now mandates that writers seeking to publish via its Kindle Direct Program must inform Amazon in advance of their intention to include AI-generated content. Additionally, Amazon has imposed a restriction on authors, allowing them to self-publish a maximum of three new books on Kindle Direct daily, in an attempt to curtail the proliferation of AI-authored texts.
Experts’ take on copyright issues
Maya Shanbhag Lang, who serves as the President of the Authors Guild and as one of the class representatives, conveyed, “We’re just getting started in our mission to protect authors from potential infringement by OpenAI and other generative AI systems. Our legal team, comprising experts in copyright law, brings a formidable presence to this battle. Make no mistake: we approach this litigation with utmost seriousness and a firm resolve”.
As per the legal action initiated by the Authors Guild, OpenAI is accused of acquiring the books employed in ChatGPT’s training by downloading them from unauthorized ebook platforms and then integrating them into the core of GPT 3.5 and GPT 4. These AI models power ChatGPT and a wide array of applications, with OpenAI anticipating significant financial gains as a result.
Author George Saunders, speaking through a statement provided by the Authors Guild, expressed his contentment in being a part of the movement to prompt the technology industry to uphold its frequent avowals of supporting creativity. He stressed the need for equitable remuneration for writers, highlighting that it serves as a clear indicator of the worth of their contributions and influences society’s perception of their work and the writers themselves.
In his view, the work of a writer, which involves the human imagination grappling with the complexities of reality and striving to identify virtue and responsibility within it, stands as a fundamental pillar of a functioning democracy.