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Authors Guild Supports Nonfiction Writers in Lawsuit Against OpenAI

American flag flies in from of U.S. Court House in New York City

On December 19, nonfiction author Julian Sancton filed an amended complaint in the Southern District of New York. Sancton added twelve new co-plaintiffs on behalf of a proposed class of nonfiction authors against OpenAI and Microsoft for the illegal copying and use of books to “train” generative AI models. The lawsuit was initially filed on November 21, 2023.

The new plaintiffs include Authors Guild council members Jia Tolentino and James Shapiro; Guild advisory council members Daniel Okrent and Wade Hampton Sides; and Guild members Jonathan Alter, Taylor Branch, Eugene Linden, Stacy Schiff, and Simon Winchester. The other named plaintiffs in the suit are Kai Bird and Rich Cohen. The court has related this case to the earlier case, filed in the Southern District of New York in September, which was brought by plaintiffs the Authors Guild and multiple fiction writers, on behalf of a proposed class of fiction writers against OpenAI and Microsoft.

The plaintiffs in the nonfiction case are representing a class of “at least tens of thousands of authors” whose works were used without authorization in the development of ChatGPT. As in the fiction writer case, the nonfiction writer complaint alleges that the illegal copying of plaintiff’s books by OpenAI and its business partner Microsoft infringes plaintiffs’ copyrights, claiming that the companies were knowingly “profiting from mass copyright infringement.” The complaint goes on to say that defendants have by choice “reproduced all or nearly all commercially successful nonfiction books” and “in doing so has harmed the market for the copyrighted works by depriving them of book sales and licensing revenue.” It asks the court to enjoin the companies from the unauthorized uses of authors’ works and, like with the fiction case, seeks statutory and other monetary damages on behalf of the class.

“These lawsuits send a clear message to AI companies that authors are taking a strong stand against uses of their works without consent or compensation,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild. “In our recent survey of authors, an overwhelming 97 percent of the 2,431 respondents said that authors’ consent should be required if their works are used in AI, and 95 percent said that authors should be compensated for this use. As the lawsuits argue, the enormous value of AI technologies like GPT comes in part from the high-quality books they’re ‘trained’ on, which are a part of the fabric of these models. It is grossly unfair that while AI companies are reaping billions in revenue and investments, the authors whose books were used without permission have not seen a dime. This is a fight for not only the survival of the writing profession, but culture as a whole.”  

The Authors Guild will continue to support authors as they seek accountability and compensation from AI companies for the unauthorized uses of their books.

For questions about the work of the Authors Guild and its longstanding advocacy on behalf of writers and the writing profession, please contact Raluca Albu,

For questions about the nonfiction case, Sancton v. OpenAI et al, please contact Rohit Nath,, or Justin Nelson,, at Susman Godfrey. For questions about Authors Guild et al. v. OpenAI et al, please contact Rachel Geman at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP,, or Scott Sholder at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP,