The Financial Times and OpenAI strike content licensing deal

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The Financial Times has struck a deal with OpenAI to train artificial intelligence models on the publisher’s archived content, in the latest agreement between the Microsoft-backed start-up and a global news publisher.

Under the terms of the deal, the FT will license its material to the ChatGPT maker to help develop generative AI technology that can create text, images and code undistinguishable from human creations.

The agreement also allows ChatGPT to respond to questions with short summaries from FT articles, with links back to FT.com. This means that the chatbot’s 100mn users worldwide can access FT reporting via ChatGPT, while providing a route back to the original source material.

“Apart from the benefits to the FT, there are broader implications for the industry. It’s right, of course, that AI platforms pay publishers for the use of their material. OpenAI understands the importance of transparency, attribution, and compensation — all essential for us,” said FT chief executive John Ridding.

”At the same time, it’s clearly in the interests of users that these products contain reliable sources.”

Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s chief operating officer, said: “Our partnership and ongoing dialogue with the Financial Times is about finding creative and productive ways for AI to empower news organizations and journalists, and enrich the ChatGPT experience with real-time, world-class journalism for millions of people around the world.”

It is the fifth such deal to be struck by OpenAI over the past year, following similar agreements with the US-based Associated Press, Germany’s Axel Springer, France’s Le Monde and Spain’s Prisa Media. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Axel Springer is expected to earn tens of millions of euros a year from allowing OpenAI to access content from its outlets such as Bild, Politico and Business Insider. That deal included a one-off payment for the publisher’s historical content and a larger fee paid under an annual licensing agreement to allow OpenAI to access more up-to-date information.

The New York Times in December became the first major US media group to sue OpenAI and Microsoft, arguing the tech companies had enjoyed a “free ride” on millions of articles to build the models underlying ChatGPT.

The lawsuit said the company had held licensing discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI “for months” but they had “not led to a resolution”.

Last year, OpenAI, Google, Microsoft and Adobe held meetings with executives from news publishers including News Corp, Axel Springer, The New York Times, The Guardian and the FT to discuss issues around their AI products, according to several people familiar with the talks .

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson has said it is in talks with AI companies about a licensing contract, while Thomson Reuters chief Steve Hasker said this year that it had struck a number of agreements with AI groups.

Google, which also built its chatbot Gemini using content from the web, has yet to reach deals with news publishers.

Enders Analysis said the bargaining position of news media groups was strongest when they could provide “up-to-date material that could be important in powering some AI consumer products”.

Additional reporting by Daniel Thomas in London

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