Understanding the Controversy: Why Renowned Authors are Taking Legal Action Against OpenAI?

Sep 23, 2023

The world of artificial intelligence is no stranger to controversy, and this week’s headlines are no exception. OpenAI, the parent company of the acclaimed AI bot, ChatGPT, is now facing a lawsuit filed by over a dozen authors in collaboration with the Authors Guild. They argue that OpenAI has exploited their literary works to fine-tune ChatGPT’s ability to generate similar content, which they categorize as “derivative works.”

OpenAI has yet to issue a public response to the allegations.

Here are three crucial aspects of the lawsuit that you should be aware of:

  1. THE PLAINTIFFS: The lawsuit, spearheaded by the Authors Guild and backed by 17 renowned fiction authors, is a class-action suit primarily targeting the impact of AI on fiction writing. These authors, many of whom have extensive portfolios, argue that their works are being unabashedly mimicked by GPT. The Authors Guild, however, acknowledges the potential harm to nonfiction markets and has plans to address this issue in due course.

Prominent authors such as David Baldacci, John Grisham, George R.R. Martin, among others, form part of the list of plaintiffs.

  1. THE AUTHORS’ PERSPECTIVE: The authors contend that it’s evident that ChatGPT has been trained on their comprehensive body of work, enabling it to create what they term as “derivative works.” According to the Authors Guild’s release, the authors are suing for “copyright infringement of their works of fiction,” insisting that their works have been unlawfully used to train GPT.

The authors emphasize that their primary concern is not the advancement of generative AI but the method employed by OpenAI to train their AI, which they believe infringes on their copyrights. They suggest that OpenAI could have opted for a more ethical approach, either by paying reasonable licensing fees or using works that are in the public domain.

  1. THE POTENTIAL THREATS: The authors’ concerns extend beyond ChatGPT’s ability to mimic their work. The recent proliferation of AI-generated books on platforms like Amazon has added fuel to their worries.

Further intensifying their apprehension is ChatGPT’s ability to imitate their unique writing styles and reference specific details from their entire collection of books. This capability, they fear, could potentially undermine their creative rights and financial revenue.