In a growing wave of legal action, authors are rallying against artificial intelligence programs, claiming AI models are using their copyrighted works without permission. The latest lawsuit against OpenAI, filed on Tuesday in federal court in New York, was organized by the Authors Guild and includes 17 authors, including John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, and Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin.
The lawsuit alleges that OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot is a “massive commercial enterprise” that is reliant upon “systematic theft on a mass scale.” The authors point to ChatGPT searches for each author to highlight their claim. For example, a search such for Martin that alleges the program generated an unauthorized outline for a prequel to A Game of Thrones.
The Authors Guild CEO, Mary Rasenberger, said in a statement that it is imperative to stop this theft or “we will destroy our incredible literary culture, which feeds many other creative industries in the US… 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.”
Author pushback against AI is gathering pace and has led to lead Amazon.com, the country's largest book retailer, changing its policies on self-published e-books. Amazon is now asking writers who plan to self-publish through its Kindle Direct Program to notify Amazon when they are including AI-generated content. Amazon is also limiting authors to three new self-published books on Kindle Direct per day, in an effort to restrict the increasing number of AI texts.
Historical Context And a Pushback Against AI Content
The lawsuit against OpenAI is the latest in a growing trend of authors challenging the use of their copyrighted works in AI training and generation. It remains to be seen how the courts will rule on these cases, but the outcome could have significant implications for the future of AI and creativity.
Earlier this month, A collective of writers, including prominent figures like Michael Chabon and David Henry Hwang, have filed a lawsuit against OpenAI. They argue that OpenAI unlawfully utilized their copyrighted works to train its AI model, ChatGPT. Chabon and the group have also brought a similar lawsuit against Meta Inc. for the same reasons.
Earlier in the year, Sarah Silverman, Christopher Golden, and Richard Kadrey accused both OpenAI and Meta of copyright infringement. They claim technology companies obtained their books from illegal sources, such as websites that offer free downloads of pirated books. They name Bibliotik, Library Genesis, Z-Library, and others as examples of such websites. They say that their books were available on these websites and were downloaded in large quantities by the companies or their partners.
Similarly, authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad filed a lawsuit against OpenAI in June. The current lawsuit not only demands compensation for the alleged copyright violations but also urges the court to prevent OpenAI from continuing what they deem as “unlawful and unfair business practices.”
In July, a group of leading news publishers also considered suing AI companies over copyright infringement. The publishers allege that the AI firms are infringing on their intellectual property rights and undermining their business model by scraping, summarizing, or rewriting their articles and distributing them on various platforms, such as websites, apps, or social media.