RSF calls on OpenAI to launch collective negotiations with media if it wants to integrate press data into its products

In response to a New York Times lawsuit, OpenAI said it wants to reach agreements with news organisations for developing its products. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) thinks the development of artificial intelligence by means of partnerships with media outlets should be negotiated collectively with the media as a whole


Without collective negotiations to safeguard media rights in the deployment of artificial intelligence, only OpenAI will truly benefit from these agreements. The AI industry has a strategic need for journalistic content, which is why, on 8 January, the company led by Sam Altman publicly expressed a desire to forge relationships with the media. But without collective negotiations to guarantee the rights of the media in the deployment of artificial intelligence, only OpenAI will come out as the winner from commercial agreements entered into to integrate content from large media groups into products commercialised by OpenAI.

It’s by absorbing news stories that AI designers can hope to mitigate the main flaw of large language models – their ability to create false information. To turn its flagship product, the ChatGPT chatbot, into one of the leading gateways to information in the coming years, OpenAI needs reliable journalistic sources. But unilateral agreements could pose a danger both for the economy of the media and for the public’s right to access diverse news and information through artificial intelligence services - because they are likely to concern only a handful of media partners who could then benefit from an immense competitive advantage over the rest of the industry. 

“Generative AI is already emerging as a competitor to traditional media and this trend will accelerate. Unilateral agreements with a few media industry heavyweights could destabilise an economy that is already undermined by the large platforms. Collective negotiation is needed with the whole news media industry. We must safeguard the economic stability of the media industry and protect the pluralism of information on AI services. This would also allow media companies to act collectively vis-à-vis the tech giants, who could otherwise turn unilateral agreements into relationships of domination by making the media dependent on their products.”

Vincent Berthier

Head of RSF’s Tech Desk

It was to combat this danger and reduce the media’s dependence on artificial intelligence providers that, in November 2023, RSF launched the Spinoza Project, a consortium of media outlets that aims to develop AI tools based on open source technology, developed with journalists.

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Updated on 28.01.2024