On Tuesday, September 19th, it was announced that John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, George R.R. Martin and 14 other respected authors, are suing OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, for “systematic theft on a mass scale,” according to the Associated Press. They’re not the only ones, because there has been a wave of writers taking legal action, all of which have concerns about AI using their work without their say so. The lawsuit was organized by the Authors Guild, with their CEO, Mary Rasenberger, saying, “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 U.S.”
On Wednesday OpenAI issued a statement saying, “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.” This statement tells me that they want writers to use this technology as a tool, instead of as a means to steal content, but intention isn’t important as impact. The lawsuit looks at ChatGPT searches for each author specifically, so we can use Martin as an example. Martin claims that the program created, “an infringing, unauthorized, and detailed outline for a prequel” to A Game of Thrones that was titled A Dawn of Direwolves. The prequel outline featured Martin’s already existing characters from books in the series, A Song of Ice and Fire.
In my opinion, I don’t think this is necessarily grounds for a lawsuit, due to the fact that no money was made from this prequel outline. It seems like this is the equivalent of me writing this outline for fun, but if I were to try and sell it then it would be a different story. OpenAI seems to be thinking the same, saying that the allegations, “misconceive the scope of copyright, failing to take into account the limitations and exceptions (including fair use).” Writers are definitely entitled to how they feel about how their work is handled by AI, but I don’t think a lawsuit is necessary unless someone is trying to make profit off of your existing work. Amazon is already making that harder because writers who have e-books now have to tell the company if the work shared by them is generated by AI beforehand.
What do you think about this topic? Hit me up and let me know.
By Gary Langfield Jr, Freshman, Columbia College Chicago
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