At Senate AI hearing, news executives fight against “fair use” claims for AI training data

On Wednesday, news industry executives urged Congress for legal clarification that using journalism to train AI assistants like ChatGPT is not fair use, as claimed by companies such as OpenAI. Instead, they would prefer a licensing regime for AI training content that would force Big Tech companies to pay for content in a method similar to rights clearinghouses for music.

The plea for action came during a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Oversight of A.I.: The Future of Journalism," chaired by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, with Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri also playing a large role in the proceedings. Last year, the pair of senators introduced a bipartisan framework for AI legislation and held a series of hearings on the impact of AI.

Blumenthal described the situation as an "existential crisis" for the news industry and cited social media as a cautionary tale for legislative inaction about AI. "We need to move more quickly than we did on social media and learn from our mistakes in the delay there," he said.

Companies like OpenAI have admitted that vast amounts of copyrighted material are necessary to train AI large language models, but they claim their use is transformational and covered under fair use precedents of US copyright law. Currently, OpenAI is negotiating licensing content from some news providers and striking deals, but the executives in the hearing said those efforts are not enough, highlighting closing newsrooms across the US and dropping media revenues while Big Tech's profits soar.

Capitol, Washington D.C. by Capitol is licensed under Unsplash

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