John Grisham, other top US authors sue OpenAI over copyrights

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A trade group for US authors has sued OpenAI in Manhattan on behalf of John Grisham and "Game of Thrones" novelist George R.R. Martin, accusing the firm of unlawfully training its popular AI-based chatbot ChatGPT on their work.

The proposed class-action lawsuit filed late on Tuesday by the Authors Guild joins several others from writers, source-code owners and visual artists against generative AI providers. In addition to Microsoft-backed OpenAI, similar lawsuits are pending against Meta Platforms and Stability AI over the data used to train their AI systems.

Other authors involved in the latest lawsuit include Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders, Jodi Picoult, The Lincoln Lawyer writer Michael Connelly and lawyer-novelists David Baldacci and Scott Turow.

OpenAI and other AI defendants have said their use of training data scraped from the internet qualifies as fair use under US copyright law.

An OpenAI spokesperson said on Wednesday that the company respects authors' rights and is "having productive conversations with many creators around the world, including the Authors Guild".

Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger said in a statement on Wednesday that authors "must have the ability to control if and how their works are used by generative AI" in order to "preserve our literature".

The Authors Guild's lawsuit claims that the datasets used to train OpenAI's large language model to respond to human prompts included text from the authors' books that may have been taken from illegal online "pirate" book repositories.

The complaint said ChatGPT generated accurate summaries of the authors' books when prompted, indicating that their text is included in its database.

It also cited growing concerns that authors could be replaced by systems like ChatGPT that "generate low-quality ebooks, impersonating authors and displacing human-authored books".

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