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Chat Gpt may be intelligent, but he is not John Grisham’s “partner”. And not even George RR Martin, author of the Game of Thrones series, or Jonathan Franzen, master of Corrections who wants to have as little to do with AI as possible. At least judging by the latest ones arriving from the Big Apple, where OpenAI finds itself sued in a federal court in Manhattan by the oldest and most important trade association of authors, in the name and on behalf of the various Grishams, Martins and Franzens, but also by George Saunders and Jodi Picault. According to the allegations, the company illegally trained its popular ChatGPT chatbot on the plaintiffs’ works.
As Hollywood actors continue to strike over the media implications of AI, the Authors Guild joins many other lawsuits filed by writers, source code owners, and visual artists against providers of generative AI. In addition to OpenAI, controlled by Microsoft, similar lawsuits are underway against Meta and Stability AI, again for data misused by their artificial intelligence systems.
The version of OpenAi & co.
Other authors involved in the latest lawsuit include Michael Connelly and Scott Turow. OpenAI representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the agencies. However, we all know their version: the use of training data taken from the Internet qualifies as fair use under US copyright law. Mary Rasenberger, head of the Authors Guild, thinks differently: authors, in her opinion, “must have the ability to control whether and how their works are used by generative AI” to “preserve our literature”.
The copyright issue
The Authors Guild’s lawsuit alleges that the datasets used to train OpenAI’s language model to respond to human queries included texts from the authors’ books that may have been taken from pirated online archives of “pirate” books. The complaint states that ChatGPT generates accurate summaries of authors’ books when asked, noting that their text is included in its database. The complaint also cites growing concern that writers could be replaced by systems like ChatGPT that “generate low-quality ebooks, impersonating authors and replacing books written by real people.” Put like this, it could be the plot of a science fiction book: who knows if it fits in with some of the recurring novelists. Or, if not them, ChatGPT can write a novel like this easily for you.