Apple explores AI deals with news publishers


Apple has entered into negotiations in recent weeks with major news and publishing organizations, seeking permission to use their material in the company's development of generative artificial intelligence systems, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

The tech giant has launched multi-year deals worth at least $50 million to license archives of news articles, said the people with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. News organizations contacted by Apple include Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue and The New Yorker; NBC News; and IAC, owner of People, The Daily Beast and Better Homes and Gardens.

The talks mark one of the first examples of how Apple is trying to catch up with rivals in the race to develop generative AI, which allows computers to create images and chat like a human. The technology, which artificial intelligence experts call neural networks, is built by Use lots of photographs or digital text to recognize patterns.. By analyzing thousands of photographs of cats, for example, a computer can learn to recognize a cat.

Microsoft, OpenAI, Google, Meta and other companies have launched chatbots and other products built with this technology. The tools could change the way people work and generate billions of dollars in sales.

But Apple has been absent from the public debate about AI, its virtual assistant. Siri has largely remained stagnant in the decade since its launch.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. During a call with analysts last month, Tim Cook, the company's chief executive, said Apple “is working” on AI, but declined to elaborate.

Some of the publishers contacted by Apple were lukewarm about the proposal. After years of on-again, off-again business deals with tech companies like Meta, the owner of Facebook, publishers they have become cautious to launch into business with Silicon Valley.

Several publishing executives were concerned that Apple's terms were too expansive, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. The initial pitch covered extensive licensing of publishers' published content files, with publishers potentially subject to any legal liability that could arise from Apple's use of their content.

Apple was also vague about how it intended to apply generative AI to the news industry, the people said, a potential competitive risk given Apple's substantial audience for news on its devices.

Still, some media executives were optimistic that Apple's approach could eventually lead to a meaningful partnership. Two people familiar with the discussions struck a positive note on the long-term prospects of a deal, contrasting Apple's approach to asking for permission with the behavior of other AI-enabled companies, which have been accused of seeking licensing deals with organizations. news after it had already used its content to train generative models.

In recent years, Apple executives have been debating how to accumulate the data needed to build generative AI products, according to two people familiar with the work. Some of its rivals have been accused of taking written material from the Internet without the permission of the artists, writers and coders who created it. which led to several copyright lawsuits.

Apple has been reluctant to take information from the Internet, in part because of its commitment to privacy. After acquiring social analytics startup Topsy in 2013, Apple leadership asked Topsy to stop collecting data from Twitter, saying doing so violated the company's policy against collecting data on Apple customers, who could also post on the social media site, these two people said.

The explosion of artificial intelligence has raised alarm bells among news executives, many of whom are concerned that generative artificial intelligence products like OpenAI's ChatGPT could attract readers who would otherwise consume their news on platforms for their own subscribers and advertisers.

Print news organizations, which decades ago saw their lucrative classifieds businesses demolished by online competitors, have been particularly cautious about striking deals with AI organizations, interacting cautiously with an eye to preserving their existing businesses. .

In a statement, an OpenAI spokesperson said the company respects “the rights of content creators and owners and believes they should benefit from AI technology,” citing its recent agreements with the American Journalism Project and German publisher Axel Springer. .

“We are optimistic and will continue to find mutually beneficial ways to work together in support of a rich news ecosystem,” the OpenAI spokesperson said.

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