For months, some of the biggest players in the U.S. media industry have been in confidential conversations with OpenAI about a sticky issue: the price and terms for licensing their content to the artificial intelligence company.
The veil on those negotiations was lifted this week when The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement, alleging the companies used their content without permission to develop AI products.
The Times said that before suing, it tried for months to reach an agreement with the companies. Other news organizations, including Gannett, the largest newspaper company in the United States; News Corp., owner of The Wall Street Journal; and IAC, the digital giant behind The Daily Beast and magazine publisher Dotdash Meredith, have been in talks with OpenAI, said three people close to the negotiations, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential conversations.
The News/Media Alliance, which represents more than 2,200 news organizations in North America, has also been talking to OpenAI about creating an agreement that serves its members’ interests, a person familiar with the conversations said.
Microsoft, which is OpenAI’s largest investor and is incorporating the startup’s artificial intelligence technology into its products, also participated in negotiation meetings.
Companies like OpenAI and Microsoft have pursued licensing deals with news organizations to train AI systems capable of producing text similar to that written by humans.
In a statement, OpenAI said it respects the rights of content creators and owners and believes they should benefit from AI technology, citing its agreements with the Associated Press and German publishing conglomerate Axel Springer.
News publishers have had precarious relationships with technology companies since they lost much of their traditional advertising business to new competitors like Google and Facebook, and publishing executives are wary of selling their content too cheaply.
There is also the fear that AI applications may provide inaccurate information by citing their articles.
The agreement with AP, announced in July, allows OpenAI to license AP’s archive of news articles.
Axel Springer, whose holdings include Politico and Business Insider, went further: This month, it reached a multi-year deal that gave OpenAI access to its news archive and allowed the AI company to use newly published articles in apps. like ChatGPT. The deal, which includes a “performance fee” based on how much OpenAI uses its content, is worth more than $10 million a year, a person familiar with the deal said.