Search engines are once again under fire from some of the top news publishers. The New York Times, News Corp, and IAC are among the companies that are discussing the formation of a coalition to address how generative artificial intelligence (GAI) will impact advertising, websites, search, content, and more.
Other publishing giants involved include Vox Media, Advance, and Axel Springer, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter.
And while a coalition might not be formed, the challenge is on the mind of publishing executives and company lawyers attempting to secure copyrights and intellectual property rights for content.
As the WSJ points out, collaboration among competitive publishers is rare, and “the talks are indicative of the existential threat generative AI technology represents both to the industry and society.”
GAI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create various types of content such as text, images and audio.
Publishers are concerned about tools that provide information directly to users, eliminating the need to follow links from search engines such as Google and Bing to information sources, such as articles.
Behind the news publishers is the News Media Alliance, a group pushing for U.S. legislation that would allow publishers under a specific size to collectively negotiate for compensation from Google, Facebook, and others that aggregate content in news feeds.
For years, publishers have had concerns about search engines and social platforms scraping news content and turning summaries into snippets that appear on the platforms.
GAI makes it easier for search engines to provide a comprehensive summary of articles and content without requiring the reader to click through to the publisher.
“Firstly, our content is being harvested and scraped and otherwise ingested to train AI engines,” News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said at a recent industry event, per the WSJ. “Secondly, individual stories will be surfaced in specific searches. And thirdly, our content will be synthesized and presented as distinct when it is actually an extracting of editorial essence.”
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman earlier this year told the WSJ that the company has considered and done “a lot with fair use, a legal provision that allows for copyright material to be used without permission in certain circumstances. Altman also said OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT-4, has struck deals for content, when warranted.