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John Grisham, George R.R. Martin and more authors sue OpenAI for copyright infringement

Published:Wednesday | September 20, 2023 | 8:02 PM
Author John Grisham appears at the opening night of “A Time To Kill” on Broadway in New York on October 20, 2013, left, and author R.R. Martin appears in Toronto on March 12, 2012. Grisham and Martin are among 17 authors suing OpenAI for “systematic theft on a mass scale.” Their suit was filed Tuesday in New York and is the latest in a wave of legal action by writers concerned that AI programmes are using their copyrighted works without permission. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — John Grisham, Jodi Picoult and George R.R. Martin are among 17 authors suing OpenAI for “systematic theft on a mass scale,” the latest in a wave of legal action by writers concerned that artificial intelligence programmes are using their copyrighted works without permission.

In papers filed Tuesday in federal court in New York, the authors alleged “flagrant and harmful infringements of plaintiffs' registered copyrights” and called the ChatGPT programme a “massive commercial enterprise” that is reliant upon “systematic theft on a mass scale.”

The suit was organised by the Authors Guild and also includes David Baldacci, Sylvia Day, Jonathan Franzen, and Elin Hilderbrand among others.

“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 US,” Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger said in a statement.

“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 lawsuit cites specific ChatGPT searches for each author, such as one for Martin that alleges the programme generated “an infringing, unauthorised, and detailed outline for a prequel” to “A Game of Thrones” that was titled “A Dawn of Direwolves” and used “the same characters from Martin's existing books in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

In a statement Wednesday, an OpenAI spokesperson said that the company respects “the rights of writers and authors, and believes they should benefit from AI technology.

“We're having productive conversations with many creators around the world, including the Authors Guild, and have been working cooperatively to understand and discuss their concerns about AI. We're optimistic we will continue to find mutually beneficial ways to work together to help people utilise new technology in a rich content ecosystem,” the statement reads.

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