artificial intelligence

US media seek to protect content against chatbots without license, fair compensation

Gelo Gonzales

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US media seek to protect content against chatbots without license, fair compensation


'For those who loot rather than license, we are actively considering our options,' Dow Jones chief compliance officer Jason Conti says

MANILA, Philippines – The potentially disruptive effect of generative AI has been palpable since its most popular example, ChatGPT, captured headlines in late 2022. Its potential effect cuts across many industries, and that includes the media, whose US players have begun to proactively determine how it will coexist with the nascent technology, according to a report by Insider (paywall). 

Talking to a number of US media groups and publishers, Insider reports that the topic is already being discussed at the highest levels, including the top executives, and is encouraging some form of cooperation even between rival publications in order to put up a more united front on generative AI, chatbots, and the existential threat it represents. 

Some of the sources it talked to include the trade organizations such as the News/Media Alliance whose members include The New York Times and Wall Street Journal publisher News Corp., as well as Digital Content Next. 

One of the greatest points of contention for these media companies is how these new chatbots might scrape and use their news content and journalism, process, and repackage that information for a user asking for it. How will media companies be compensated for the chatbots’ use of that information? 

Insider reported that, according to at least two publisher sources, it is likely if not inevitable, and would likely follow the precedent set by Getty Images suing Stability AI for scraping its content, lodged in January 2023. 

The website reports that “Media companies could make the case that bots scraping their content violates their terms of service,” although it also warns that tech companies could argue that their AI is creating new content, which could be argued is covered by fair use laws. 

Another way, according to sources, is to seek licensing agreements with tech companies for using their content. 

“For those who loot rather than license, we are actively considering our options, and won’t hesitate to take action to ensure our rights are respected,” said Jason Conti, EVP and general counsel, chief compliance officer of publishing firm Dow Jones.

Insider also reported that publishers are “clear-eyed about not repeating their mistakes of the past” when they shifted their business models to adjust to the rise of social networks and search, but became vulnerable to the whims and changes made by the tech platforms. Some, on the other hand, including Insider parent Axel Springer, are exploring focusing more on “investigations and news analysis” – content that can’t be easily replicated by AI. – 

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.