Dec 13, 2023 - Technology

Axel Springer, OpenAI strike "real-time news" deal for ChatGPT

Axel Springer logo sign over the firm's headquarters

Photo: Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images

ChatGPT parent OpenAI has struck a deal with Axel Springer, parent to a slew of German and U.S. media outlets, to “help provide people with new ways to access quality, real-time news content through our AI tools,” OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The deal marks a new milestone in the relationship between journalism companies and artificial intelligence firms — one that involves not just providing data to train ChatGPT’s models, but also using vetted journalism to bolster the accuracy of ChatGPT’s responses.

Be smart: The deal also marks the first time OpenAI has detailed plans for ChatGPT to provide attribution to news publishers in its responses.

  • In a statement, the two firms said the new arrangement "explicitly values the publisher's role in contributing to OpenAI's products" and marks a “significant step” in both firms‘ commitment to “creating new financial opportunities that support a sustainable future for journalism."

Details: As part of the deal, ChatGPT will gain access to content from Axel Springer publishers, including German outlets such as Bild and Welt and American outlets such as Politico and Business Insider, that it can use for real-time news summaries and to help train its large language models.

  • ChatGPT users will receive summaries of select global news content from Axel Springer's media brands in response to certain user prompts, including content that is paywalled.
  • ChatGPT’s answers will include attribution and links to the full articles that the content is pulled from.
  • Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In previous deals with news companies, OpenAI has paid its partners for access to their content for two years.

Between the lines: The deal marks the first global publishing group agreement for OpenAI, which to date has announced partnerships only with the Associated Press and the American Journalism Project, a group that supports local publishers.

  • Most major journalism companies are currently engaged in talks with AI firms, including OpenAI, about finding ways to partner or get compensated for the use of their content in training large language models.
  • Danielle Coffey, the CEO of the News/Media Alliance, one of the largest journalism trade groups in the country, told Axios last month that she believes AI firms scraping content from news firms’ websites without compensating them doesn’t constitute “fair use“ under current copyright standards.

Yes, but: While many newsrooms are experimenting with AI, not all publishers have been as quick to embrace such deals, out of caution that handing over their content to Big Tech firms could create a long-term power imbalance.

  • For months, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner has been urging his newsrooms to leverage AI, telling CNN in October that his firm will use AI for "fact-checking," without specifying how.
  • "We want to explore the opportunities of AI-empowered journalism — to bring quality, societal relevance and the business model of journalism to the next level," Döpfner said in a statement announcing the OpenAI deal.
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