OpenAI and Microsoft Sued by Nonfiction Authors over AI training

Authors Nicholas Basbanes and Nicholas Gage are suing OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming copyright infringement for using their books to train AI models, including ChatGPT. This follows a trend of writers, such as Sarah Silverman and George R.R. Martin, filing lawsuits against tech companies over alleged unauthorized use of their work for AI training.

AI Ethics Battle Heats Up: Nonfiction Authors Sue OpenAI and Microsoft over Copyright Infringement
OpenAI logo displayed on a laptop screen and Microsoft logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on January 23, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

AI Ethics Battle Heats Up: Nonfiction Authors Sue OpenAI and Microsoft over Copyright Infringement

New York, NY – January 6, 2024 – The burgeoning world of artificial intelligence (AI) is facing a new legal challenge, as two prominent nonfiction authors, Nicholas Basbanes and Nicholas Gage, have filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its financial backer, Microsoft, accusing them of copyright infringement. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, alleges that the companies used the authors’ works without permission to train the AI models behind popular chatbot ChatGPT and other AI-powered services.

Claims of Copyright Infringement

The complaint claims that OpenAI included several of Basbanes and Gage’s books in the vast dataset used to train its GPT large language model. This model, which forms the backbone of ChatGPT and other AI applications, learns from massive amounts of text data to generate human-quality text, translate languages, and write different kinds of creative content. However, the authors argue that their copyrighted material was included without their consent or compensation, constituting a violation of their intellectual property rights.

Seeking Justice for a Class

The lawsuit seeks to establish a class action, representing potentially thousands of authors whose works may have been similarly used without authorization. Michael Richter, the lawyer representing Basbanes and Gage, stated, “It is outrageous that these companies could utilize the intellectual property of authors like Nick and Nick to fuel a billion-dollar industry without any form of compensation or even acknowledgement.”

Not the First Battle

This lawsuit is not the first time concerns about copyright infringement in AI training have surfaced. Just last week, The New York Times filed a similar suit against OpenAI and Microsoft, accusing them of using its journalists’ work to train AI applications without permission. Additionally, several prominent fiction authors, including Sarah Silverman and George R.R. Martin, have also filed lawsuits against tech companies over the alleged unauthorized use of their works in AI training datasets.

The Legal Gray Area

The legal landscape surrounding AI training and copyright is still evolving. While traditional copyright laws offer protection for creative works, it remains unclear how they apply to the complex algorithms and vast datasets used to train AI models. This lack of clarity creates a gray area where tech companies may unwittingly infringe upon the rights of authors and other content creators.

The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for the future of AI development. If the court finds in favor of Basbanes and Gage, it could set a precedent for stricter regulations on the use of copyrighted material in AI training. This could lead to increased costs and administrative burdens for tech companies, potentially slowing down the pace of AI innovation.

The Future of AI and Copyright

The conflict between AI development and copyright protection highlights the need for a clear and balanced legal framework. Both sides of the equation – authors and content creators seeking to protect their intellectual property, and tech companies striving to advance AI – have legitimate interests that need to be addressed. Finding a solution that balances these interests will be crucial for ensuring the ethical and sustainable development of AI in the future.

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Source(s): The Business Times

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