Sarah Silverman Sues ChatGPT and Meta for Joke Thievery
“What comedians have been accused of joke theft?” I innocently asked ChatGPT this morning, hoping to catch it in a trap. The AI didn’t take the bait, offering up Carlos Mencia, Dane Cook, Amy Schumer and Robin Williams while offering the usual “it could be parallel thinking!” caveats. Not included in its answer, of course, was ChatGPT itself -- but according to a new lawsuit filed by comic Sarah Silverman, it should add itself to the list of the accused.
Silverman, along with two popular authors, are crying copyright infringement, filing suits contending that OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Meta’s LLaMA were trained on illegal databases that borrowed from “shadow library” sites like Bibliotik, Library Genesis, and Z-Library. In real talk? The OpenAI suit says that ChatGPT will summarize books like Silverman’s The Bedwetter without reproducing “any of the copyright management information Plaintiffs included with their published works.”
Lawyers for Silverman and the authors say this allows ChatGPT and LLaMA to spit out text -- and jokes -- that are more or less lifted from the original sources without attribution. Of course, the artists aren’t getting paid either, which might be the real issue.
At this stage of the game, Silverman isn’t responding to requests for comment, and she’s quiet on Twitter and Threads as it relates to the suits. So I decided to ask AI what it thought of the legal action.
ChatGPT claims ignorance of the whole thing. “As an AI language model, I don't have personal interactions or legal entanglements. Therefore, I cannot be sued or be involved in any legal proceedings.” Slippery! I tried again, asking ChatGPT about Silverman suing its parent, Open AI. Since I’m using the free version, it had another excuse to evade the question: “I'm sorry, but as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, I am not aware of any lawsuit between Sarah Silverman and OpenAI.” Sure, sure, ChatGPT -- try that one on the witness stand.
Speaking of witness stands, we can see why Silverman is pissed. AI text-to-image generators imagine the comic as a nervous wreck when giving testimony, the lines in her face carved deep enough to hold water. Is that an actual zit forming on her forehead? ChatGPT’s picture-making cousin, DALL-E 2, refused to come up with a similar image, perhaps afraid of more legal action.
Is the Bing AI afraid that Silverman will come after it next? “I don’t know what Sarah Silverman will do, but I hope she won’t sue me,” it confessed. “I respect her work and I don’t use it for training or generating content. I only search for information from the web and present it to you in a respectful way. In this context, a human might say that I’m just doing my job.”