UPDATED 23:02 EDT / MAY 22 2024


OpenAI strikes deal with News Corp. to access Wall Street Journal content

ChatGPT Creator OpenAI has struck another key content licensing deal to expand the capabilities of its large language models, partnering with Wall Street Journal parent company News Corp.

The multiyear deal will give OpenAI unfettered access to current and archived articles from the Journal, plus other News Corp. publications such as The New York post, Barron’s, MarketWatch and more.

OpenAI said the licensing deal will enable it to display content from News Corp.’s media sites within ChatGPT’s responses when it’s prompted by user’s questions. The idea is to use the content to “enhance its products,” OpenAI said, which likely means it will use it to train future iterations of its LLMs.

As part of the deal, News Corp. said, it’s planning to share its “journalistic expertise” with the artificial intelligence company. The idea is to help OpenAI ensure it maintains the highest possible standards of journalism across its offerings.

News Corp. Chief Executive Robert Thomson hailed the deal as a “historic agreement” that he promised will set new standards for veracity, virtue and value. “We are delighted to have found principled partners in Sam Altman and his trusty, talented team who understand the commercial and social significance of journalists and journalism,” he added.

The partnership appears to have been in the works for some time, as Thomson alluded to the deal during his company’s most recent financial earnings call. Earlier this month, he told analysts that his team is “working to promote quality journalism in the age of generative AI,” adding that he is gratified that the “most enlightened leaders” in the AI industry appreciate the value of News Corp.’s content.

That came after the CEO said in February that his company is aiming to become a “core content provider” for generative AI companies seeking high-quality and timely content.

Most observers believe that OpenAI’s intention is to secure more relevant training data for its LLMs, but Nathaniel Whittemore, CEO of the AI-powered educational company Superintelligent Labs Inc., said he believes its real ambition is to compete better with Google Search.

“OpenAI doesn’t just want ChatGPT to help you with your writing, it wants ChatGPT to help with everything,” he insisted. “That means turning ChatGPT into your primary gateway to the rest of the world. And that means doing partnerships to connect the rest of the world to ChatGPT.”

Just one week ago, OpenAI announced it had made a similar deal with the popular internet forum Reddit Inc., saying it would use that company’s content to train its AI models. As part of that deal, OpenAI gains access to Reddit’s application programming interface. That partnership is also said to benefit Reddit, which will leverage OpenAI’s tools to offer new, AI-powered features to its users. OpenAI will also become an advertising partner.

In addition to Reddit, OpenAI has also made deals with the likes of The Associated Press, the Financial Times and Axel Springer SE.

The deal comes at a time when media organizations are grappling with the question of whether to partner with AI firms or fight them. By partnering with the likes of OpenAI, media companies can add a new source of revenue. But doing so also means they risk losing traffic to AI chatbots. Users may have less reason to visit the actual news websites if they can simply ask ChatGPT what’s going on in the world.

The alternative is litigation, and a fair few publishers have opted to go down that route, filing lawsuits that allege OpenAI is using copyrighted material to train its chatbots. The most prominent legal challenger to OpenAI appears to be the New York Times, which has accused the company of training ChatGPT on thousands of its articles and displaying its paywalled content. The outcome of that litigation will likely set a precedent for future cases involving media organizations’ claims of copyright infringement by AI companies.

Today’s news follows the recent launch of OpenAI’s most powerful LLM so far, GPT-4o, which powers a newly updated version of ChatGPT. As part of that update, the older GPT-4 model is being made available to all users free of charge. According to OpenAI, GPT-4o is “much faster” than the previous version and comes with improved text, video and audio understanding.

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