Mark Ruffalo hopped on Twitter to give congratulations to Sarah Silverman for suing OpenAI for copyright infringement. The Marvel actor and three-time Oscar nominee said, “This will most likely become a landmark case.”
Silverman isn’t suing OpenAI by herself; she’s going after the ChatGPT maker alongside novelists Christopher Golden (“Ararat”) and Richard Kadrey (“Sandman Slim”). Together, they’re arguing that OpenAI has infringed their works’ copyrights by using them for ChatGPT training data “without consent, without credit, and without compensation.”
As a class-action lawsuit, Silverman and co. are representing a class defined as “all persons or entities domiciled in the United States that own a United States copyright in any work that was used as training data for the OpenAI Language Models during the Class Period.”
The suit notes that there are “at least” thousands of members in the Class across the United States, so “joinder of all members of the Class in the prosecution of this action is impracticable.”
In other words, with so many people allegedly infringed upon by OpenAI, it’s not possible for them all to represent themselves in the case. As such, Silverman, Golden, and Kadrey will be running point.
The authors (including Silverman; the suit cites her work, “The Bedwetter”) are going after OpenAI for what has been a common complaint among artists and creators for some time: that they’re not being properly recognized or compensated when their works’ data is scraped and trained on by language models and other artificial intelligence tools.
Adjacent copyright-related lawsuits have cropped up in recent memory, such as the recent Warhol case that saw the Supreme Court weigh in on what protections “transformative” work had in commercial settings. Given that most all generative AI work is “transformative” in the sense that it’s simply remixing tons of individual works to form something fresh, there was some discussion over what the Warhol verdict may mean for AI-related suits. Now, it seems there’s a case set to directly answer the core question of whether OpenAI’s data-gathering methods are protected in the U.S. or constitute vast, country-spanning copyright infringement.
Representatives for OpenAI, Ruffalo and Silverman did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.