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Kadrey v. Meta

The comedian and author Sarah Silverman and other published authors filed a class action lawsuits against Meta claiming it infringed upon their copyright by making copies of their books as part of training data for Meta’s LLaMA AI model, that the LLaMA model itself was a “derivative work” of their books, and that various LLaMA outputs were unlawful copies of their books. Plaintiffs also claimed Meta removed their Copyright Management Information (CMI) as well as engaging in unfair competition, unjust enrichment, and negligence.The complaint was filed along with the one filed against OpenAI by the same lead plaintiffs.

Meta moved to dismiss every claim except the copyright claim related to training LLaMa, reserving it to challenge later in the case. Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California granted Meta’s motion to dismiss across the board finding that there were no plausible theories for plaintiffs to win on. Specifically, Judge Chhabria rejected the claim that LLaMA models themselves are infringing derivative works, calling this a nonsensical argument, since the models are software code that create abstract mathematical relationships and could not be conceived of as a recasting or adaptation of any of the expressive text of plaintiffs’ books. The allegation that every output is an infringing derivative work and that Meta is vicariously liable for the users prompting such outputs was also rejected because of the plaintiffs’ failure to allege that any specific output was infringing or incorporated the copyrighted material. Without specific allegations that specific outputs incorporated their copyrighted works, there was no legal basis for the claim to move forward in the case. The court also dismissed the CMI claim because it also depended on specific allegations that LLaMA could produce plaintiffs’ books. The unfair competition claims, unjust enrichment claims, and negligence claims all failed as well because they duplicated the copyright infringement claims and thus were preempted by the Copyright Act. The court gave plaintiffs 21 days to amend their complaint to cure these problems.

Assuming plaintiffs cannot allege any new facts, the only remaining claim left out of the motion to dismiss is the claim on use of copyrighted works for training, a use that Meta maintains is quintessential fair use.

LAST UPDATED 11/27/2023