OpenAI Is In Trouble With George R.R. Martin & Author’s Guild For Copyright Infringement
By Philip Watson,2023-09-27
The Author’s Guild and 17 authors, including Game of Thrones ‘ George R.R. Martin, have moved forward with a class-action lawsuit against OpenAI for training ChatGPT with licensed work without permission.
Last week, a class-action lawsuit was filed in an attempt to protect the intellectual property of writers everywhere, due to OpenAI actively using their works of fiction without permission or compensation to train the ChatGPT AI bot. The co-counsel for the 17 author Plaintiffs, Rachel Geman said “Defendants’ decision to copy authors’ works, done without offering any choices or providing any compensation, threatens the role and livelihood of writers as a whole” in the class-action suit, where the plaintiffs allege the continued usage of OpenAI without permission is copyright infringement and threatens the writing profession.
The main body of the complaint alleges OpenAI “copied Plaintiffs’ works wholesale, without permission or consideration,” suggesting the defendants fed Open AI and its large language algorithms with the copyrighted work of the 17 authors in the lawsuit. Large language algorithms or ‘LLMs’ are the heart of AI systems that utilize generative technology, and are the framework for how an AI ‘seems human’ when responding to actual human queries. The LLMs can then use their learning to use the author’s copyrighted works in summary, paraphrase, or even outright forge property without the author’s permission, and can universally harm the market towards authors. The result is what the lawsuit calls “systematic theft on a mass scale.”
It’s notable that the lawsuit alleges OpenAI could have used public domain works or paid a reasonable fee to use the copyrighted works, but instead chose to attempt to evade the Copyright Act and power their business with copyrighted works without authorization. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman openly testified to Congress earlier this year on May 16, that he thinks “creators deserve control over how their creations are used” and “content creators, content owners, need to benefit from this technology ” The lawsuit alleges they have not.
Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger said “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” with a statement that systems like OpenAI “copy sentence structure, voice, storytelling, and context from books and other ingested texts. The outputs are mere remixes without the addition of any human voice. Regurgitated culture is no replacement for human art.”
The authors listed in the class-action lawsuit are David Baldacci, Mary Bly, Michael Connelly, Sylvia Day, Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham, Elin Hilderbrand, Christina Baker Kline, Maya Shanbhag Lang, Victor LaValle, George R.R. Martin, Jodi Picoult, Douglas Preston, Roxana Robinson, George Saunders, Scott Turow, and Rachel Vail. As of right now, OpenAI and Sam Altman have yet to respond to the allegations formally, but readers can head over to the Author’s Guild website to read the entire complaint for more information.