Just a few weeks ago Judge William Orrick massively trimmed back the first big lawsuit that was filed against generative AI companies for training their works on copyright-covered materials. Most of the case was dismissed, and what bits remained may not last much longer. And now, it appears that Judge Vince Chhabria (who has been very good on past copyright cases) seems poised to do the same.
This is the high profile case brought by Sarah Silverman and some other authors, because some of the training materials used by OpenAI and Meta included their works. As we noted at the time, that doesn’t make it copyright infringing, and it appears the judge recognizes the large hill Silverman and the other authors have to climb here:
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said at a hearing that he would grant Meta’s motion to dismiss the authors’ allegations that text generated by Llama infringes their copyrights. Chhabria also indicated that he would give the authors permission to amend most of their claims.
Meta has not yet challenged the authors’ central claim in the case that it violated their rights by using their books as part of the data used to train Llama.
“I understand your core theory,” Chhabria told attorneys for the authors. “Your remaining theories of liability I don’t understand even a little bit.”
Chhabria (who you may recall from the time he quashed the ridiculous copyright subpoena that tried to abuse copyright law to expose whoever exposed a billionaire’s mistress) seems rightly skeptical that just because ChatGPT can give you a summary of Silverman’s book that it’s somehow infringing:
“When I make a query of Llama, I’m not asking for a copy of Sarah Silverman’s book – I’m not even asking for an excerpt,” Chhabria said.
The authors also argued that Llama itself is an infringing work. Chhabria said the theory “would have to mean that if you put the Llama language model next to Sarah Silverman’s book, you would say they’re similar.”
“That makes my head explode when I try to understand that,” Chhabria said.
It’s good to see careful judges like Chhabria and Orrick getting into the details here. Of course, with so many of these lawsuits being filed, I’m still worried that some judge is going to make a mess of things, but we’ll see what happens.
Organisational Structures | Technology and Science | Military, IT and Lifestyle consultancy | Social, Broadcast & Cross Media | Flying aircraft