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George R.R. Martin and other authors sue OpenAI for copyright infringement

George R.R. Martin and other authors sue OpenAI for copyright infringement


Westeros won’t bend the knee.

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

More authors sued OpenAI for copyright infringement, joining other writers in pursuing legal action against generative AI companies for using their books to train AI models. 

The Authors Guild and 17 well-known authors like Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham, George R.R. Martin, and Jodi Picoult filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs hope to get the filing classified as a class action.

According to the complaint, OpenAI “copied plaintiffs’ works wholesale, without permission or consideration” and fed the copyrighted materials into large language models. 

“These authors’ livelihoods derive from the works they create. But the Defendant’s LLMs endanger fiction writers’ ability to make a living in that the LLMs allow anyone to generate — automatically and freely (or very cheaply) — text that they would otherwise pay writers to create,” the lawsuit said.

The authors added that OpenAI’s LLMs could result in derivative work “that is based on, mimics, summarizes, or paraphrases” their books, which could harm their market. 

OpenAI, the complaint said, could have trained GPT on works in the public domain instead of pulling in copyrighted material without paying a licensing fee. 

OpenAI said in a statement to The Verge that the company is optimistic it is “having productive conversations with my 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 utilize new technology in a rich content ecosystem,” the company said.

This is the latest lawsuit against OpenAI from popular authors — Martin wrote Game of Thrones, Grisham’s many books have been turned into films, and so on — alleging copyright infringement. Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay writer Michael Chabon and others sued the company for using their books to train GPT earlier in September. Comedian Sarah Silverman and authors Christopher Golden and Richard Kadrey also sought legal action against OpenAI and Meta, while Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad filed their complaint in June

Generative AI companies have had to thread the copyright minefield several times, with lawsuits also being filed against AI image platforms. Microsoft, which partners with OpenAI, announced it will take the legal heat if commercial users of its Copilot AI service get sued. 

Update September 21st, 11:52 AM ET: Added statement from OpenAI.