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Authors Guild, High-Profile Writers File Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against OpenAI and ChatGPT

— September 27, 2023

The lawsuit broadly claims that OpenAI and its best-known product, ChatGPT, are almost wholly reliant on “systematic theft on a large scale.”

A coalition of high-profile authors, including John Grisham and George R.R. Martin, are among 17 plaintiffs named in a recently-filed lawsuit accusing OpenAI of “systematic theft on a mass scale.”

According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit was filed last week in a New York federal court. In their complaint, the authors claim to have suffered “flagrant and harmful infringement of [their] registered copyrights,” calling OpenAI’s ChatGPT a “massive commercial enterprise” that is largely reliant on both theft and plagiarism.

The lawsuit, notes The Associated Press, was organized by, and filed on behalf of, the Authors Guild. It also includes writers Jodi Picoult, David Baldacci, Sylvia Day, Jonathon Franzen, and Elin Hinderbrand, among others.

“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 C.E.O. Mary Rasenberger said in a statement. “Great books are generally written by those who spend their careers and, indeed, their lives, learning and perfecting their crafts.”

Stack of books; image by Kimberly Farmer, via
Stack of books; image by Kimberly Farmer, via

“To preserve our literature, authors must have the ability to control if and how their works are used by generative A.I.,” she said.

The complaint cites actual ChatGPT searches for each author, including one for George R.R. Martain that returned “an infringing, unauthorized, and detailed outline for a prequel” to “A Game of Thrones,” entitled “A Dawn of Direwolves.”

This A.I.-generated prequel outline used “the same characters from Martin’s existing books in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire.””

OpenAI has since issued a statement saying that it respects the “rights of writers and authors, and believe they should benefit from A.I. technology.”

“We’re having productive conversations with many creators around the world, including the Authors Guild, and have been working cooperatively to understand discuss their concerns about A.I.,” an OpenAI spokesperson said in a statement. “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 Associated Press reports that other authors, including Michael Cabon and David Henry Hwang, sued OpenAI in San Francisco in early September, saying that ChatGPT is dependent on the “clear infringement of intellectual property.”

OpenAI has broadly defended its work, saying that such claims “misconceive the scope of copyright, failing to take into account the limitations and exceptions (including fair use) that properly leave room for innovations like the large language models now at the forefront of artificial intelligence.”


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