Europe 1 with AFP/Photo credit: Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto/NurPhoto via AFP 11:47 a.m., September 21, 2023

Many writers have sued the creator of ChatGPT. They accuse the company of using their works "without permission" to create its ChatGPT artificial intelligence.

George R.R. Martin, the author of the "Game of Thrones" saga, and other writers have launched a lawsuit against California-based startup OpenAI, which they accuse of using their works to create ChatGPT in defiance of their copyright.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in New York, they accuse the company of using their books "without permission" to train its language model, the artificial intelligence (AI) technology behind ChatGPT, a software capable of producing all kinds of texts on simple request in everyday language.

"At the heart of these algorithms is systematic theft on a large scale," the lawyers say. Among the plaintiffs in this class action were the Authors Guild and several writers, including George R.R. Martin and novelist John Grisham.

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Many other complaints have been filed by artists, organizations, and coders against OpenAI and its competitors. The language models "endanger fiction writers' ability to make a living, as they allow anyone to automatically generate texts for free (or at very low prices) for which they would otherwise have to pay authors," the lawyers argue in Tuesday's complaint.

Artists file complaints

They also argue that generative AI tools can be used to produce derivative content that mimics the style of writers. "In an unfair and perverse way, (...) The deliberate copying (of the plaintiffs' work) thus transforms their works into engines of their own destruction," the complaint said.

The guild and the authors are seeking a ban on the use of copyrighted books to form language models "without express permission," as well as damages.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request from AFP. The company needed mountains of texts found online to train its language model, but never specified exactly which sites and writings were used.

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Propelled among the AI giants thanks to the success of ChatGPT late last year, OpenAi is already the subject of other similar lawsuits, including a group action of software engineers that also attacks Microsoft, its main investor, and the GitHub platform.

And artists filed a lawsuit in January against Stability AI, Midjourney and DeviantArt, whose programs were trained from numerous visual works on the internet. In early September, Microsoft announced that it would provide legal protection to its customers sued for copyright infringement on content generated with its generative AI tools.