AI and media companies negotiate historic deals on news content

The world’s largest tech companies are in talks with major media outlets to strike historic deals on using news content to train artificial intelligence technology.

OpenAI, Google, Microsoft and Adobe have met with news executives in recent months to discuss copyright issues related to their AI products such as text chatbots and image generators, according to several people familiar with the talks.

These people said that publishers including News Corp, Axel Springer, The New York Times and The Guardian have each had discussions with at least one of the tech companies.

Those involved in the discussions, which remain in the early stages, added that the deals could involve media organizations paying a subscription fee for their content in order to develop the technology behind chatbots like ChatGPT by Google’s OpenAI and Bard.

The talks come as media groups express concern about the threat to the industry posed by the rise of artificial intelligence, as well as fears over OpenAI and Google’s use of their content with no deals in place. Some companies like Stability AI and OpenAI are facing lawsuits from artists, photo agencies and programmers, alleging copyright and contract infringement.

Speaking at INMA, a news conference in May, News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson summed up the industry’s outrage, saying [medias] Collective intellectual property is under threat and for which we should clamor for redress.

He added that the AI ​​was designed so that the reader never visits a journalism website, thus fatally undermining that journalism.

An agreement would set the pattern for news organizations in their dealings with AI companies around the world.

Copyright is a crucial issue for all publishers, said the Financial Times, which is also debating the issue. As a subscription company, we must protect the value of our journalism and our business model. Engaging in constructive dialogue with interested companies, as we do, is the best way to achieve this.

Media industry executives want to avoid the mistakes of the early internet age, when many offered articles online for free that ultimately undermined their business models. Big Tech groups like Google and Facebook then accessed that information to help build multibillion-dollar online advertising businesses.

As the popularity of generative AI has grown, so have the concerns of the news industry, given the technology’s ability to produce convincing strips of human-like text.

Google recently announced a generative search feature, which returns an information box written by artificial intelligence on top of its traditional format of web links. It was launched in the US and is preparing for worldwide release.

Some discussions currently involve trying to find a pricing model for news content used as training data for AI models. One number that had been mooted by publishers is $5 million – $20 million a year, according to an industry executive.

Mathias Dpfner, CEO of Politico, owner of Axel Springer, who met with leading AI companies Google, Microsoft and OpenAI, said his first choice would be to create a quantitative model similar to the one developed by the music industry which sees radio stations, nightclubs and streaming services pay record labels every time a song is played. This would first require AI companies to disclose their media usage, which they currently aren’t doing.

DPFner, whose Berlin-based media company also owns German tabloid Bild and Die Welt newspaper, said an annual deal for unlimited use of a media company’s content would be a second-best option, because that model it would be more difficult for small regional or local producers. outlets to take advantage of.

We need an industry-wide solution, Dpfner said. We have to work together on this.

Google has been negotiating with UK news outlets, meeting with the Guardian and NewsUK. The Alphabet-owned company has long-standing partnerships with many media organizations to use content data like articles to ensure they’re optimized to appear in its search engine. The company has used the data to train its large language models, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.

Google has a licensing deal on the table, a newspaper group executive said. They have accepted the principle that there must be payment… but we have not gone so far as to talk about zeros. They’ve acknowledged that there’s a conversation about money that we need to have in the next few months, which is step one.

Google would not comment on financial discussions. However, the research firm said it has ongoing conversations with news organizations large and small in the US, UK and Europe, and has already trained its AI on publicly available information, which could include websites protected by paywalls.

The Silicon Valley giant added another option it was considering was how to give publishers more choice and control over whether their content becomes part of an AI training dataset, similar to how it allows websites to opt out of their content used in search.

Since the launch of ChatGPT in November, OpenAI head Sam Altman has met with News Corp and The New York Times, according to people familiar with the discussions. The company acknowledged that it has held discussions with publishers and publishing associations from around the world about ways we can work together.

Developing a financial model for using news content to train AI will be extremely difficult, according to editorial leaders. Senior executives at a major US publisher said the news industry was working retroactively because tech companies launched these products without consulting them.

There was no discussion, so now we have to try to get paid after that happens, the executive said. The way they have launched these products, the total secrecy, the fact that there is no transparency, no communication before it happens, there are reasons to be rather pessimistic.

Media analyst Claire Enders said talks are very complicated at the moment, adding that as each organization takes its own approach, a single trade deal for the media groups is unlikely and could backfire.

Enders added: Chatbots will not be credible tools if they are literally trained primarily in the sewers of misogyny and racism that make up most of the open and accessible text.

The tech companies building AI are eager to focus on its usefulness in promoting efficiency within newsrooms and improving journalism, and are happy to pay millions to preserve longstanding relationships with the industry, the companies said. people involved in the interviews.

Brad Smith, a vice president at Microsoft, said it’s been in the early days of conversations with the media and publishers, and part of that is just helping everyone learn about how models are trained.

I think our biggest opportunity really is to work with publishers first to think about how they can use AI to drive more revenue, he added.

Adobe chief executive Shantanu Narayen said he had met with Disney, Sky and the UK’s Daily Telegraph in recent weeks to discuss how it could develop custom models for companies to use its generative AI for images.

Adobe’s model is trained on images in its stock image library, as well as openly licensed and public domain content whose copyright has expired. Narayen said tailored offers and pricing will depend on the company, but customers could add their own proprietary content to the tool.

Axel Springers DPFner expressed optimism that the deals would be reached because both media organizations and policy makers grasped the scale of the challenge more quickly than during the last major wave of technological disruption.

AI companies know regulation is coming and are afraid of it, he said, adding, It’s in all parties’ interests to find a solution for a healthy ecosystem. If there’s no incentive to create intellectual property, there’s nothing to crawl. And artificial intelligence will become artificial stupidity.

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