"It's my turn to file suit."
Last month, a group of high profile authors announced they were suing ChatGPT-makers OpenAI for training its large language models (LLMS) on their books.
John Grisham, a bestselling author known for his prolific output of legal thrillers, was one of the big names behind the lawsuit. And now, he's finally spoken out on his feelings on AI, calling the technology a "threat" to writers that cannot be "truly appreciated, explained or predicted," the BBC reports.
"It's my turn to file suit," he told the BBC One Breakfast Programme this week. "For 30 years, I've been sued by everyone else — for slander, defamation, copyright, whatever — so it's my turn."
You could say that Grisham, a former attorney who's written close to 40 novels based on his profession, knows a thing or two about the legal system — which, whether or not that actually has a bearing on this particular case, makes him feel like a formidable foe.
And he's not the only attorney-turned-author in the suit, either. David Baldacci, a fellow legal thriller luminary and an attorney by education, is also a plaintiff. Other notable names include George R.R. Martin and Jonathan Franzen, not to mention the official backing of the preeminent Author's Guild.
In their complaint filed last month, the authors argue that the success of OpenAI is "predicated on mass copyright infringement without a word of permission from or a nickel of compensation to copyright owners."
Furthermore, the authors characterize large language models as an existential threat to their profession, writing that these AIs "endanger fiction writers' ability to make a living."
"[OpenAI] would have no commercial product with which to damage — if not usurp—the market for these professional authors' works," they wrote.
Though the efficacy of these arguments remains to be seen in court, there's no doubt as to the mounting pressure on OpenAI to answer for its brazen data scraping. This isn't the only notable group of authors that have recently sued the Microsoft-backed startup.
Beyond his misgivings with AI, Grisham hasn't revealed how he feels about the case itself. He did add, however, that he's been feeling more "pessimistic" about the legal system in general.
"For the past 15 years, I've served on two boards dedicated to exonerating innocent people who are in prison," he told the BBC programme. "I've come to realize there are thousands of innocent people in prison — they all go back to a bad verdict."
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