Microsoft and OpenAI hit by authors' new lawsuit over AI training

Microsoft and OpenAI hit by authors' new lawsuit over AI training

The lawsuit is just one in a long line of legal cases brought by fiction and nonfiction authors who allege that their work has been used to train AI programs without proper authorization. These legal cases reflect a growing unease within the writing community about the exploitation of their intellectual property for the development and advancement of AI technologies.


Writers are increasingly speaking out against what they see as a lack of recognition and compensation for the exploitation of their literary works in the development of these cutting-edge machine learning systems.

This trend reflects the wider ethical and legal debate about the relationship between creative expression and the changing landscape of artificial intelligence. It also raises questions about the rights and obligations involved in using existing works for the development of technology.

On Friday, a lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court against OpenAI, the groundbreaking AI research organization, and Microsoft, its financial backer. The lawsuit was brought by a pair of nonfiction authors who claim that OpenAI and Microsoft misused their literary works as the basis for training artificial intelligence models. These models power the popular chatbot ChatGPT, among other AI-based services. The legal dispute centers around the allegation that the nonfiction authors’ intellectual property was misappropriated in developing and training these AI systems.

As the case progresses, it raises important questions about the ethical implications of using creative works for the development of AI technologies, as well as the potential impact on intellectual property rights in an ever-changing landscape of artificial intelligence.

Writers Nicholas Basbanes and Nicholas Gage have brought forth a legal claim, suggesting in a proposed class action that certain companies have violated their copyrights. The alleged infringement revolves around the incorporation of several of their authored works into the dataset employed for training OpenAI's GPT large language model. These authors contend that the inclusion of their books in the training data amounts to a breach of their intellectual property rights. The essence of their argument lies in the assertion that the companies involved have utilized their creative works without proper authorization, thus necessitating legal action to address the perceived copyright infringement. As part of their legal stance, Basbanes and Gage underscore the significance of safeguarding the rights of content creators and seek redress for what they perceive as an unauthorized utilization of their literary creations in the development of the GPT language model.


Microsoft and OpenAI representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries regarding the complaint. The silence from both organizations raises questions about their stance and willingness to address the concerns outlined in the complaint. This lack of response may be interpreted in various ways, such as potential strategic considerations, ongoing internal discussions, or a deliberate decision to withhold public comments at this time. As stakeholders eagerly await their input, the absence of official statements from Microsoft and OpenAI adds an air of uncertainty to the situation. It remains to be seen how these key players will navigate and respond to the allegations raised in the complaint and whether they will choose to engage in a public discourse to provide clarity and transparency.

The legal action under consideration is just one among a series of lawsuits initiated by a diverse group of individuals, encompassing both fiction and nonfiction writers. Noteworthy names in this ongoing legal discourse include the renowned comedian Sarah Silverman and the acclaimed author of "Game of Thrones," George R.R. Martin. What unites these distinct voices is their shared concern and allegation regarding the purported utilization of their creative works for the training of artificial intelligence (AI) programs by various tech companies. The legal landscape is evolving as these writers seek redress for what they perceive as an infringement upon their intellectual property rights. This growing trend of legal challenges reflects the intricate intersection between the realms of literature and technology, highlighting the complex ethical and legal considerations that arise in the age of AI advancements.

Last week, The New York Times took legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging the unauthorized use of its journalists' work in the training of artificial intelligence applications. This lawsuit raises significant concerns about the boundaries and ethical considerations surrounding the utilization of copyrighted material for the development and enhancement of AI technologies. The Times argues that the incorporation of its content without explicit permission not only infringes upon intellectual property rights but also underscores the broader issues of fair use and digital content ownership in the evolving landscape of technology and journalism. This legal dispute reflects the ongoing tension between media organizations seeking to protect their proprietary content and the tech industry's reliance on vast datasets, including news articles, to train advanced AI models. As the case unfolds, it is likely to contribute to the ongoing discourse on the ethical and legal implications of AI development in relation to intellectual property and content usage rights.


Basbanes and Gage, both seasoned journalists with a wealth of experience in their respective fields, have found themselves embroiled in a legal battle over the use of their works. Michael Richter, the legal representative for the two authors, has vehemently expressed his disbelief at what he deems an "outrageous" situation. In his view, it is unconscionable that these companies could leverage the intellectual contributions of Basbanes and Gage to fuel a burgeoning industry that is now valued at over a billion dollars, all without extending any form of compensation to the original creators. The crux of the matter lies in the apparent disconnect between the creators and the emergent industry, raising fundamental questions about fair compensation and ethical practices in the evolving landscape of intellectual property.

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