At a hearing last week, a federal judge said that he will dismiss part of the lawsuit filed by a group of authors including comedian Sarah Silverman that claims Meta’s Llama AI application infringes their copyrights.
According to Reuters, judge Vince Chhabria said the authors' allegations that text generated by Llama infringes their copyrights simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. “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 observed, noting that, under the authors’ theory, a side-by-side comparison of text generated by the AI application and Silverman’s book would have to show they are similar.
However, the judge said he will not dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the authors will be allowed to amend and refile their claims. Furthermore, a core claim of the suit—that Meta’s use of unauthorized copies to train its AI model is infringing—remains.
The judge’s decision was not unexpected. As PW reported in July, multiple lawyers said that the authors’ copyright claims face long odds in court.
The proposed class action suit before Chhabria was filed on July 7 by the Joseph Saveri Law Firm on behalf of authors Christopher Golden, Richard Kadrey, and comedian Sarah Silverman, just days after the Saveri firm filed a similar suit on behalf of authors against Open AI, with authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad as named plaintiffs (though Awad has since withdrawn). A third group of authors represented by another firm (with authors including Michael Chabon, David Henry Hwang, Matthew Klam, Rachel Louise Snyder, and Ayelet Waldman among others) filed a lawsuit in August.
The suits all make similar claims: that AI can “generate a writing in the style of a certain author” or “provide in-depth analysis” of the authors' books only because the books were “copied” without permission of the authors as part of their “training data,” as the Open AI complaint states. That data includes copies allegedly scraped from notorious pirate sites.
The pending dismissal of some of the authors' claims comes after another federal judge dismissed similar claims from a lawsuit filed by a group of visual artists (also represented by the Saveri law firm) against AI companies Stability AI, Midjourney, and Deviant Art. As reported by Reuters, judge William Orrick said he was "not convinced that allegations based on the systems' output could survive without showing that the images were substantially similar to the artists' work."
A motion by Open AI to similarly trim the author suit against them is still pending.