In the most recent chapter of the ongoing AI debate, Microsoft and OpenAI face a new lawsuit. Nonfiction authors Nicholas Gage and Nicholas Basbanes have filed a complaint for alleged copyright infringement. The authors contend that the tech giants “simply stole” their copyrighted works to develop their billion-dollar artificial intelligence system. This lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan federal court, closely follows a similar legal action by The New York Times against Microsoft and OpenAI, the creator of the AI chatbot ChatGPT.
Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Representing Authors
The authors point out that the defendants publicly acknowledged the need to pay copyright owners such as themselves for their work. Their legal action seeks to represent writers with allegedly stolen copyrighted material allegedly stolen by Microsoft and OpenAI. The lawsuit portrays the defendants as no different than common thieves, asserting that they systematically pilfered creative content for their AI projects.
The proposed class action lawsuit covers all authors or legal owners in the U.S. whose copyrighted works have been or are being used by the defendants to train their extensive language models. This may be tens of thousands of individuals. The authors seek damages of up to $150,000 for each infringed work.
Prior Lawsuit by U.S. Fiction Writers Against OpenAI
A group of notable American fiction writers, including Jonathan Franzen and George R.R. Martin, previously filed a lawsuit against OpenAI. This class action suit, also claiming copyright infringement, was on behalf of fiction writers. It was filed in Manhattan federal court in September.
Copyright Owners Should Be Paid for AI Training Material
Legal counsel for Basbanes and Gage, Mike Richter, argued that this new lawsuit should be designated as the lead class action claim due to its broader scope. Richter criticized OpenAI’s use of copyrighted works without permission. He likened it to a homeowner refusing to pay for hidden materials behind the walls of a house.
OpenAI, in response to The New York Times’ lawsuit, said they respected the rights of content creators and were committed to working with them. With this broader legal challenge, it remains to be seen how the proceedings unfold.