OpenAI Must Face Defamation Suit From Ga. Radio Host

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A Georgia state judge has given the green light to a defamation suit brought by a conservative talk radio host claiming OpenAI's ChatGPT product published false legal information about him, rejecting the company's bid to toss the case.

In a single-page order issued Thursday without much explanation, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Tracie H. Cason denied OpenAI's motion to dismiss an amended complaint from Mark Walters, host of Armed American Radio. The parties had a hearing on OpenAI's motion on Dec. 6. 

Walters has alleged that ChatGPT produced a fake complaint naming him as a defendant when a journalist writing about a real legal case used the chatbot to research the case.

OpenAI sought to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that the journalist misused ChatGPT despite repeated warnings that it produced the fake complaint, and that ChatGPT is a tool, not a publisher, and cannot be held liable.

"Plaintiff's claims fail for reasons deep-rooted in settled defamation law: there was no publication, no actual malice, no listener who believed the alleged defamatory content, and thus no harm to any reputation," OpenAI wrote in its motion to dismiss.

"Rather, there was only a journalist who knew the plaintiff, misused the software tool intentionally, and knew the information was false but spread it anyway, over OpenAI's repeated warnings and in violation of its terms of use," the company added.

Walters countered that he had met Georgia's pleading standards, which allow for claims to be fully fleshed out during discovery.

Walters further argued that the journalist who produced the fake complaint did his due diligence by checking whether the complaint was real and that OpenAI is attempting to shirk responsibility for its product.

"In essence, OAI is arguing that it is a mere gossip monger who begins its wild accusations with, 'Now this may not be true, but … .' The responsible thing for OAI would be not to spread false rumors in the first place," Walters told the court.

OpenAI sought to remove the case to federal court earlier in the litigation but backed down from that request when it learned that it would have to disclose the identities of its employees and investors to establish diversity of citizenship.

Representatives for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Walters is represented by John R. Monroe of John Monroe Law PC.

OpenAI LLC is represented by Ashley A. Carr, Brendan Krasinski, Danny Tobey, Ilana H. Eisenstein and Peter Karanjia of DLA Piper.

The case is Mark Walters v. OpenAI LLC, case number 23-A-04860-2, in the Superior Court of Gwinnett County, State of Georgia.

--Editing by Rich Mills.

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