OpenAI and Microsoft are defendants in a $3 billion class-action lawsuit, accused of unlawfully scraping 300 billion words from the internet to train ChatGPT. The suit, filed by sixteen anonymous plaintiffs, alleges the companies did not obtain consent or register as data brokers.

The lawsuit likens these actions to Clearview AI’s controversial data harvesting practices, which led to legal action and subsequent service cessation to most private U.S. individuals and businesses.

The plaintiffs claim the companies used stolen personal information – including names, contact details, and social media information – to unjustly enrich themselves. They demand transparency about data collection and usage, adherence to ethical principles, compensation for stolen data, and an opt-out option for users.

This lawsuit follows another class-action suit against OpenAI and Microsoft by GitHub programmers, alleging that GitHub Copilot (a Microsoft-owned AI coding tool) violated open-source licenses.

A polite way to look at this legal action is to characterize it as highlighting the tension between AI advancement and privacy rights, underscoring the need for addressing legal and ethical questions in AI development. However, I think this is total nonsense.

If you publish something on the public internet, it is by default “public.” LLMs are not reselling anyone’s individual IP; they simply trained on it in the same way I trained to write this blog post on a half-dozen publicly available news stories about this lawsuit as well as the publicly available complaint itself.

Hysteria and lashing out in fear is not going to help anyone or anything (although it may make a few lawyers rich).

If you want to understand how AI works (and get an always-up-to-date overview of AI tools), sign up for our free online course Generative AI for Execs. It will help you frame your thoughts about how AI models are trained.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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