FT and OpenAI ink partnership amid web scraping criticism

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The Financial Times and OpenAI have announced a strategic partnership and licensing agreement that will integrate the newspaper’s journalism into ChatGPT and collaborate on developing new AI products for FT readers. However, just because OpenAI is cozying up to publishers doesn’t mean it’s not still scraping information from the web without permission.

Through the deal, ChatGPT users will be able to see selected attributed summaries, quotes, and rich links to FT journalism in response to relevant queries. Additionally, the FT became a customer of ChatGPT Enterprise earlier this year, providing access for all employees to familiarise themselves with the technology and benefit from its potential productivity gains.

“This is an important agreement in a number of respects,” said John Ridding, FT Group CEO. “It recognises the value of our award-winning journalism and will give us early insights into how content is surfaced through AI.”

In 2023, technology companies faced numerous lawsuits and widespread criticism for allegedly using copyrighted material from artists and publishers to train their AI models without proper authorisation.

OpenAI, in particular, drew significant backlash for training its GPT models on data obtained from the internet without obtaining consent from the respective content creators. This issue escalated to the point where The New York Times filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft last year, accusing them of copyright infringement.

While emphasising the FT’s commitment to human journalism, Ridding noted the agreement would broaden the reach of its newsroom’s work while deepening the understanding of reader interests.

“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,” explained Ridding.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that OpenAI was utilising scripts from YouTube videos to train its AI models. According to the publication, this practice violates copyright laws, as content creators who upload videos to YouTube retain the copyright ownership of the material they produce.

However, OpenAI maintains that its use of online content falls under the fair use doctrine. The company, along with numerous other technology firms, argues that their large language models (LLMs) transform the information gathered from the internet into an entirely new and distinct creation.

In January, OpenAI asserted to a UK parliamentary committee that it would be “impossible” to develop today’s leading AI systems without using vast amounts of copyrighted data.

Brad Lightcap, COO of OpenAI, expressed his enthusiasm about the FT partnership: “Our partnership and ongoing dialogue with the FT is about finding creative and productive ways for AI to empower news organisations and journalists, and enrich the ChatGPT experience with real-time, world-class journalism for millions of people around the world.”

This agreement between OpenAI and the Financial Times is the most recent in a series of new collaborations that OpenAI has forged with major news publishers worldwide.

While the financial details of these contracts were not revealed, OpenAI’s recent partnerships with publishers will enable the company to continue training its algorithms on web content, but with the crucial difference being that it now has obtained the necessary permissions to do so.

Ridding said the FT values “the opportunity to be inside the development loop as people discover content in new ways.” He acknowledged the potential for significant advancements and challenges with transformative technologies like AI but emphasised, “what’s never possible is turning back time.”

“It’s important for us to represent quality journalism as these products take shape – with the appropriate safeguards in place to protect the FT’s content and brand,” Ridding added.

The FT has embraced new technologies throughout its history. “We’ll continue to operate with both curiosity and vigilance as we navigate this next wave of change,” Ridding concluded.

(Photo by Utsav Srestha)

See also: OpenAI faces complaint over fictional outputs

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This post was originally published on AI News

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