News Corp.'s Quest for Compensation from AI Companies: A New Revenue Stream or a Threat to Journalism?

JJohn August 11, 2023 3:07 AM

News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson is pushing for AI companies to pay for using their unique content and intellectual property (IP) in AI development. While this could open up a new revenue stream, it could also pose a threat to journalism and intellectual property.

Negotiating for content value

CEO Robert Thomson of News Corp., owner of the Wall Street Journal, is spearheading talks with AI and tech companies. The aim is to establish the value of News Corp.'s unique content sets and intellectual property. These resources are deemed significant for the progression of artificial intelligence. These negotiations show that the rise of generative artificial intelligence is a pressing concern for industry leaders.

This is not the first time News Corp. has sought payment for access to its content. The media corporation has a track record of pushing for and receiving payments from tech giants, such as Google and Meta, for access to their journalistic content. Now, they are bringing this approach to their dealings with AI companies, some of which are among the same tech corporations they've negotiated with in the past.

AI's threat to journalism

Thomson expressed concerns about the potential challenges artificial intelligence brings to publishers and intellectual property holders. AI engines often scrape and ingest content for training, and original content may be synthesized and presented as distinct, which may detract from the original source. This process, Thomson argues, could undermine journalism by distilling its effort and insight into 'super snippets' that prevent readers from visiting the original news site.

Despite the possible challenges, Thomson believes there are also opportunities to be found in AI. The technology could potentially provide a new revenue stream for the company and contribute to cost reduction across various sectors. Whether it's customer service, subscription management, or content conversion, Thomson foresees exponential efficiencies brought about by AI.

The high stakes of AI

However, Thomson also warned of the high stakes involved in dealing with AI. The technology's potential for creating sophisticated forgeries or 'counterfeit content' is a significant concern. Moreover, generative AI could potentially recycle itself into an endless cycle of deceptive variations. That's why the provenance of the archival base is so crucial and why refreshing the database with incremental improvements is imperative.

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