USA TODAY parent company Gannett, The Associated Press and eight other media organizations on Wednesday called on policymakers to regulate artificial intelligence models, arguing that failure to act could hurt the industry and further erode the public’s trust in the media.
An open letter signed by the organizations voices concern over the loss of intellectual property rights at the hands of generative AI models, noting that the technology is often trained with proprietary content.
While AI can provide “significant benefits to humanity,” there should be a legal framework that promotes “responsible AI practices that protect the content powering AI applications while preserving public trust in media,” according to the letter.
What does the letter say?
The letter says AI models are often trained with and can share content lifted from publishers without crediting, compensating or gaining permission from the original creators, and argues that such practices violate copyright law (which has been debated by legal experts), undermine the media industry’s core business models and ultimately reduce the public’s access to trustworthy information.
The organizations say they want to see more transparency around how generative AI models are trained, with AI models required to gain consent from the original creators before their intellectual property is used for training. They contend that media companies should be able to collectively negotiate the access and use of their content with AI companies.
The organizations also say AI models and their users should be required to “clearly, specifically, and consistently” identify their work as AI-generated and that AI companies be mandated to limit misinformation and bias from their models.
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Which organizations signed the letter?
The signatories of the letter include:
- Agence France-Presse
- European Pressphoto Agency
- European Publishers’ Council
- Gannett | USA TODAY Network
- Getty Images
- National Press Photographers Association
- National Writers Union
- News Media Alliance
- The Associated Press
- The Authors Guild
The organizations’ use of AI technology has been mixed.
Getty Images filed a lawsuit against Stability AI in February that accused the AI company of copying more than 12 million of its photos to train its technology without permission or compensation.
The Associated Press recently signed a two-year deal with ChatGPT parent company OpenAI that gave the AI company permission to license part of its archive of news stories to train its algorithms.
And Reuters in June reported that Gannett ‒ the largest newspaper publisher in the country ‒ plans to include generative AI in the system it uses to publish stories, and is set to roll out a pilot program that creates bulleted summaries at the top of USA TODAY articles in the fourth quarter.
AI in the media industry
The letter comes as media organizations begin to navigate what sort of role AI will play in the industry.
Some outlets like CNET and Gizmodo have already started publishing content written by AI. The New York Times last month reported that Google was pitching AI technology that can produce news stories billed as a “personal assistant for journalists” to organizations including the Times, The Washington Post and News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal.
But there are still concerns over content written by AI, namely its tendencies to produce misinformation or biased content. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into OpenAI that is in part looking into whether the tool caused harm by publishing inaccurate information.
And publishers have voiced concerns that the advancement of AI could further erode traffic numbers by giving consumers answers directly in chatbots instead of sending them to a list of links.
Other industries have also been concerned about the consequences of AI.SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America ‒ unions representing American actors and screenwriters ‒ are on strike in part because of fears that AI tools could eliminate jobs by writing screenplays and generating characters.
“Generative AI is an exciting advancement that offers the potential for significant benefits to society if developed and deployed responsibly,” the media organizations’ letter reads. “We look forward to being part of the solution to ensure that AI applications continue to prosper while respecting the rights of media companies and individual journalists who produce content that protects the truth and keeps our communities informed and engaged.”