The Financial Times and OpenAI have announced a strategic partnership and licensing agreement aimed at integrating the newspaper’s journalism into ChatGPT and collaborating on the development of new AI products for FT readers. However, despite this collaboration, OpenAI continues to scrape information from the web without permission.

Under the terms of the deal, ChatGPT users will gain access to selected attributed summaries, quotes, and rich links to FT journalism when relevant queries are made. Additionally, earlier this year, the FT became a customer of ChatGPT Enterprise, providing all its employees with access to the technology to explore its potential productivity gains.

John Ridding, CEO of the FT Group, described the agreement as significant, noting its recognition of the value of the FT’s award-winning journalism and its potential to provide 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 authorization. OpenAI, in particular, drew significant backlash for training its GPT models on data obtained from the internet without consent from 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 emphasizing the FT’s commitment to human journalism, Ridding noted that the agreement would broaden the reach of its newsroom’s work while deepening the understanding of reader interests.

“This agreement has broader implications for the industry. It’s essential that AI platforms compensate publishers for the use of their material. OpenAI understands the importance of transparency, attribution, and compensation – all vital for us,” explained Ridding.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that OpenAI was utilizing 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 copyright ownership of their material.

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 enthusiasm about the FT partnership, stating, “Our partnership and ongoing dialogue with the FT is about finding creative and productive ways for AI to empower news organizations and journalists, enriching 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 latest 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 emphasized, “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.

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