Axel Springer's OpenAI deal raises IP questions for digital savvy media firms

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OpenAI and Axel Springer have announced a new partnership that will grant ChatGPT users access to summaries of content from a variety of the publishing group’s titles, including Politico and Business Insider

The news comes in the wake of tensions between several AI companies and media outlets, the latter of which have complained that AI training methods rely on the uncompensated use of their content.

A deal like this, however, shows potential for change. There could soon be a new landscape in which AI companies cooperate with media outlets and pay for their right to use licensed content.

The tie up between the two firms is a landmark, “first of its kind” agreement, according to Axel Springer Ceo Mathias Döpfner, and there’s a lot to unpack on a practical level.

Under the terms of the partnership, Axel Springer will provide OpenAI with the necessary content from articles for ChatGPT to display summaries and extracts in response to prompts. 

At the same time, OpenAI will ensure summaries and extracts include accurate links and references to the original, full length Axel Springer sources.

The original sources will also remain behind a paywall, meaning OpenAI will be giving its users a sort of exclusive preview of the Axel Springer content. The financial side of the deal is more difficult to ascertain as both companies declined to disclose financial terms.

The glaring question that remains, however, is how this decision will affect the relationship between AI companies and the broader media sector, and whether there might be a newfound potential for legitimizing AI training processes.

Companies like OpenAI often use news content from across various outlets to train their large language models, trawling search engine archives to build up data and improve AI responses.

Amid fears that such activity could breach intellectual property rules, many media companies have blocked AI companies from using their data. 


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As it stands, almost half of all 1,148 news publishers have blocked AI companies from using their data. With this new deal, Axel Springer may have given a seal of approval to OpenAI and the broader industry - but on their terms.

It may well be the case that other news outlets start to take a similar approach to protect their own content.

A key factor here, however, is the ease of access provided by OpenAI. Though the terms of the deal stipulate that OpenAI includes the relevant links and references back to Axel Springer, many users might be satisfied with the ChatGPT summaries alone.

George Fitzmaurice
Staff Writer

George Fitzmaurice is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a particular interest in AI regulation, data legislation, and market development. After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature, he undertook an internship at the New Statesman before starting at ITPro. Outside of the office, George is both an aspiring musician and an avid reader.