Friends in AI Places? Publishers and Tech Companies Discussing Content Deal

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Financial Times is reporting that it and other publishers such as News Corp, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Axel Springer are in early negotiations with leading tech companies to “strike landmark deals over the use of news content to train artificial intelligence technology.”

Sources are saying tech companies like OpenAI, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe could pay media organizations a subscription-like fee to use their content with their AI products, something that would, in Financial Times’ words, “set the blueprint for news organizations in their dealings with generative AI companies worldwide.”

“Copyright is a crucial issue for all publishers,” says the Financial Times. “As a subscriptions business, we need to protect the value of our journalism and our business model. Engaging in constructive dialogue with the relevant companies, as we are, is the best way to achieve that.”

Specifics are sparse, but Financial Times spells out a few scenarios brought up in these early talks. 

There’s the discussion of publisher content to be used in AI training models. One unnamed industry executive puts the publishers’ number for that privilege at somewhere between $5 million and $20 million per year.

An annual fee for unlimited content, however, would be the No. 2 option for Axel Springer executive Mathias Döpfner, who prefers an “industry-wide solution” that wouldn’t inherently be more difficult for smaller or local news organizations to take advantage of.

Döpfner’s preference would be a quantitative model that Financial Times compares to the music-industry model of radio stations and streaming services paying a record label every time a song is played.

“It is in the interest of all parties to come up with a solution for a healthy ecosystem,” Döpfner says, adding that AI companies “know that regulation is coming, and they are fearful of it.”

“If there is no incentive to create intellectual property, there is nothing to crawl. And artificial intelligence will become artificial stupidity.”


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