Publishers' AI Licensing Negotiations Mark an Inflection Point

Copyright law favors creators, but commercial compromise offers a hedge against uncertainty

Driven by the uncertainty surrounding generative AI, news publishers have begun the complex process of drafting licensing agreements that would, in exchange for payment, grant AI firms access to their content.

Publishers are faced with the impossible—albeit familiar—dilemma of needing to determine what is best for them now based on what might happen in the future.

“It’s essentially an economic question,” said one digital publishing executive, speaking anonymously. “What is the value of the content you have produced, what will its value be in the future, and are you willing to part with that based on what is being offered?”

Prior to the advent of gen AI technology, publishers and search engines maintained a largely mutualistic relationship.




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This story first appeared in the Nov. 14, 2023, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.