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US authors John Grisham and George RR Martin are now suing ChatGPT owner OpenAI for using their content without permission. George RR Martin is best known for writing the fantasy series, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ which became a bestseller and later was adapted into the HBO series, ‘Game of Thrones’. The recently filed lawsuit by both authors claims that OpenAI used authors’ books to make ChatGPT smarter. The large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT “learn” and make their system work better by analyzing the data that can be sourced online. Other prominent authors who have supported and added their names to the lawsuit are George Saunders, Jonathan Franzen, and Jodi Picoult.

The lawsuit was brought to the federal court of Manhattan, New York by the Authors Guild. It is a trade group in America that is working behind the authors who are named in the lawsuit. In return, OpenAI claimed that it respected the rights of the authors. It also said that it believed “they should benefit from AI technology”. The lawsuit accuses OpenAI of engaging in  “systematic theft on a mass scale”. The lawsuit alleges that the company and its AI system ChatGPT copied the named authors’ content “without permission or consideration” and used their works to train the language model. The guild also said that these language models endanger the ability to make a living for fiction writers. In the lawsuit, the guild argued that OpenAI could have trained the language models on public domain works instead, or could at least pay a licensing fee as the works are copyrighted. According to the lawsuit, the guild argues that OpenAI should require permission or consent from authors before using their works for their training of language models.

The lawsuit also claims that the authors should be compensated as their works have been used without their consent or permission. The amount that the guild is seeking in compensation is unspecified but according to the reports, it is “open to statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringed work paid out to the plaintiffs and class members.” In a statement, the guild states that ChatGPT mimics the authors’ works to generate books. They also cited that the language model recently attempted to generate two unreleased volumes of ‘Game of Thrones series, A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George RR Martin.

OpenAI’s spokesperson commented, “We’re having productive conversations with many creators around the world, including the Authors Guild, and have been working co-operatively to understand and discuss their concerns about AI.” “We’re optimistic we will continue to find mutually beneficial ways to work together,” he continued. Rachel Geman, a lawyer who is representing the Author’s Guild, said in a statement, “Without Plaintiffs’ and the proposed class’ copyrighted works, Defendants would have a vastly different commercial product.” He continued by saying “Defendants’ decision to copy authors’ works, done without offering any choices or providing any compensation, threatens the role and livelihood of writers as a whole.”

Joseph Morgan

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