OpenAI and Microsoft Face New Copyright Lawsuit for Allegedly ‘Taking the Combined Works of Humanity Without Permission’

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microsoft openai lawsuit
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Photo Credit: Coolcaesar

OpenAI is now facing yet another copyright infringement lawsuit over the protected media that it allegedly used to train ChatGPT. Unlike similar complaints, however, the newly filed class-action also names Microsoft as a defendant.

Julian Sancton, the author of 2021’s Madhouse at the End of the Earth, only recently submitted the suit to a New York federal court. As highlighted, the case is one of several levied against OpenAI (which reinstated Sam Altman as CEO today) owing to the alleged unauthorized use of copyrighted works.

But contrasting the complaint from Sarah Silverman as well as a separate action from the Authors Guild, Sancton’s suit centers on both OpenAI and Microsoft – and not solely because the latter’s invested billions in the AI startup.

“OpenAI and Microsoft have built a business valued into the tens of billions of dollars by taking the combined works of humanity without permission,” the legal text begins, proceeding to explore at relative length the “close” relationship between the entities.

“While OpenAI was responsible for designing the calibration and fine-tuning of the GPT models—and thus, the largescale copying of this copyrighted material involved in generating a model programmed to accurately mimic Plaintiff’s and others’ styles—Microsoft built and operated the computer system that enabled this unlicensed copying in the first place,” the document continues.

Beyond this significant difference – which could, of course, have major implications down the line – other components of the suit resemble those within the above-mentioned complaints.

Specifically, Sancton’s action touches upon OpenAI’s alleged transition from a non-profit “into a complex (and secretive) labyrinth of for-profit corporate entities,” the sources from which OpenAI allegedly accessed protected media, and the importance of training ChatGPT on “quality” content.

Regarding the alleged use of Sancton’s previously noted book, the Hollywood Reporter senior features editor and his counsel went ahead and included in the complaint an affirmative answer that ChatGPT purportedly provided when asked about the matter. (The chatbot’s since been retooled “to avoid divulging the details of its training dataset and the extent of its copyright infringement,” per the text.)

“‘Yes, Julian Sancton’s book ‘Madhouse at the End of the Earth’ is included in my training data,’” ChatGPT’s said to have replied before developers allegedly altered responses to all such queries.

“While OpenAI’s anthropomorphizing of its models is up for debate, at a minimum, humans who learn from books buy them, or borrow them from libraries that buy them, providing at least some measure of compensation to authors and creators,” the suit drives home towards its end. “OpenAI does not, and it has usurped authors’ content for the purpose of creating a machine built to generate the very type of content for which authors would usually be paid.”

Among other things, Sancton is seeking statutory and compensatory damages, disgorgement of profits, and an order permanently enjoining the described alleged infringement.