Authors Join Class-Action Lawsuit Against Microsoft and OpenAI Over Copyright Infringement

Several Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, including Kai Bird, Taylor Branch, and Stacy Schiff, are now parties to a class-action lawsuit that author Julian Sancton initially brought against Microsoft and OpenAI. The authors allege that both OpenAI and Microsoft violated copyright laws by using their copyrighted works without permission to train artificial intelligence (AI) models, specifically GPT models. The group of nonfiction writers claims in their amended complaint that OpenAI and Microsoft, which have businesses valued in the tens of billions, have achieved success by flouting copyright laws and appropriating the collective works of humanity without proper authorization.

The lawsuit emphasizes the significant time and effort nonfiction authors invest in conceiving, researching, and creating their works, arguing that OpenAI and Microsoft have profited immensely from the unauthorized use of copyrighted material. The complaint characterizes this practice as "rampant theft of copyrighted works" and challenges the companies' refusal to compensate nonfiction authors for their intellectual property. The authors' legal action adds to a growing trend of lawsuits targeting major tech companies for copyright infringement related to the extensive datasets used to train AI models.

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This case is part of a broader legal landscape where authors and content creators are increasingly taking action against tech giants for unauthorized use of their works in AI training. In September, a group of novelists, including George R.R. Martin and Jodi Picoult, sued OpenAI, while another set of authors targeted Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for similar reasons. In October, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and religious authors filed a lawsuit against Meta, Microsoft, Bloomberg, and the EleutherAI Institute, claiming the unauthorized use of copyrighted books in datasets.

The legal challenges highlight the tension between technological advancements and intellectual property rights, as the transformative use of vast datasets to train AI models prompts debates over fair compensation and proper authorization. As the lawsuits unfold, they may influence the legal frameworks surrounding AI development and data usage, impacting how tech companies navigate intellectual property concerns in their pursuit of innovation.