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George R.R. Martin & The Authors Guild Sue ChatGPT For Stealing Their Books

"We do not bring this suit lightly. We are here to fight."

Image Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

A group of 17 authors, including some prominent names such as John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, David Baldacci, and even George R.R. Martin himself, as well as The Authors Guild, have filed a class action lawsuit against ChatGPT developer OpenAI, accusing the company of copyright infringement regarding their fictional works being used to train their AI models.

According to the complaint filed on September 20, the plaintiffs allege that OpenAI downloaded their books from unauthorized e-book sources and utilized them to train GPT 3.5 and GPT 4, the AI models integrated into ChatGPT.

"The Authors Guild serves to protect the literary landscape and the profession of writing. This case is merely the beginning of our battle to defend authors from theft by OpenAI and other generative AI," said Maya Shanbhag Lang, President of the Authors Guild and a class representative. "As the oldest and largest organization of writers, with nearly 14,000 members, the Guild is uniquely positioned to represent authors' rights. Our membership is diverse and passionate. Our staff, which includes a formidable legal team, has expertise in copyright law. This is all to say: We do not bring this suit lightly. We are here to fight."

In a statement, The Authors Guild expressed its concern, stating that generative AI poses a substantial threat to the livelihood of authors. They further clarified that they initiated this lawsuit due to the profound injustice and potential hazards arising from the utilization of copyrighted books for the development of commercial AI systems without securing proper authorization or providing compensation.

The full list of named plaintiffs includes 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.

"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.," commented Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger. "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. The various GPT models and other current generative AI machines can only generate material that is derivative of what came before it. They 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."

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