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OpenAI, Microsoft hit with new author copyright lawsuit over AI training


OpenAI and Microsoft (MSFT.O) were sued last week over claims that they misused the work of nonfiction authors to train the artificial intelligence models that underlie services like OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT.

OpenAI copied tens of thousands of nonfiction books without permission to teach its large language models to respond to human text prompts, said author and Hollywood Reporter editor Julian Sancton, who is leading the proposed class action filed in Manhattan federal court.

The lawsuit is one of several that have been brought by groups of copyright owners, including authors John Grisham, George R.R. Martin and Jonathan Franzen, against OpenAI and other tech companies over the alleged misuse of their work to train AI systems. The companies have denied the allegations.

Sancton’s complaint is the first author lawsuit against OpenAI to also name Microsoft as a defendant. The company has invested billions of dollars in the artificial intelligence startup and integrated OpenAI’s systems into its products.

A spokesperson for OpenAI declined to comment on the Tuesday lawsuit, citing pending litigation. Representatives for Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“While OpenAI and Microsoft refuse to pay nonfiction authors, their AI platform is worth a fortune,” Sancton’s attorney Justin Nelson said in a statement. “The basis of OpenAI is nothing less than the rampant theft of copyrighted works.”

Sancton’s lawsuit said that OpenAI copied nonfiction books, including his “Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night” to train its GPT large language models.

The complaint also said that Microsoft has been “deeply involved” in training and developing the models and is also liable for copyright infringement.

Sancton asked the court for an unspecified amount of monetary damages and a court order to block the alleged infringement.

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