For months, some of the biggest players in the US media industry have been in confidential talks with OpenAI about a sensitive topic: the price and terms of licensing their content to the artificial intelligence company.

The curtain on those negotiations was raised this week when The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement, alleging that the companies used its content without permission to create artificial intelligence products.

The Times said that before suing, it had been talking to the companies for months about a settlement. And he was not alone. Other news organizations, including Gannett, the largest newspaper company in the United States; News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal; and IAC, the digital colossus behind The Daily Beast and magazine publisher Dotdash Meredith, have been in talks with OpenAI, said three people familiar with the negotiations, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential talks.

The News/Media Alliance, which represents more than 2,200 news organizations in North America, has also been talking to OpenAI about the idea of ​​a framework for an agreement that suits its members, a person familiar with the talks said.

Microsoft, which is OpenAI’s largest investor and is incorporating OpenAI technology into its products, has also held talks. “We have had thoughtful conversations with several publishers and look forward to future discussions,” said Frank Shaw, a Microsoft spokesman.

Companies like OpenAI and Microsoft have sought licensing deals with news organizations to train artificial intelligence systems that can produce human-like prose. Those systems, in turn, power applications like chatbots, from which companies can earn revenue.

Nearly a dozen publishing executives and media business experts say the conversations have been complicated by the rapid development of artificial intelligence applications in the market, which has raised thorny questions for the future of the media industry.

In a statement, OpenAI said it respected the rights of content creators and owners and believed they should benefit from AI technology, citing its agreements with The Associated Press and German publishing conglomerate Axel Springer.

“We continue to have productive conversations with many of them around the world to discuss their questions about AI,” OpenAI spokesperson Kayla Wood said in a statement. “We are optimistic and will continue to find mutually beneficial ways to work together in support of a rich news ecosystem.”

News publishers have had precarious relationships with technology companies since losing much of their traditional advertising business to newcomers like Google and Facebook more than a decade ago, and editorial executives fear selling their content for too much. low.

“I think part of the reason news organizations are now looking so closely at OpenAI is because they have 20 years of history indicating that if we’re not careful, we’ll give away the keys to the kingdom,” said Andrew Morse, the editor. from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cox Media Group’s flagship newspaper, which is not in talks with OpenAI.

There are also fears that artificial intelligence applications could provide inaccurate information by citing their articles, damaging the credibility of companies.

“We’ve been through a decade-long period of misinformation and misinformation, and that was before AI,” said Ken Doctor, a media analyst and entrepreneur. “Now that AI is on the scene, we are just at the dawn of an era in which anyone has the ability to foster and multiply misinformation and disinformation. And that, of course, terrifies news editors.”

Still, some news organizations have reached agreements. He according to The Associated Press, announced in July, allows OpenAI to license the archive of AP news articles. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Axel Springer, whose holdings include Politico and Business Insider, went further: This month, he hit a multi-year agreement That gave OpenAI access to its news archive and allowed the AI ​​company to use newly published articles in apps like ChatGPT. The deal, which includes a “performance fee” based on how much OpenAI uses its content, is worth more than $10 million a year, a person familiar with the deal said.

Some media companies have decided not to pursue commercial agreements with OpenAI. Bloomberg, which has a vast data terminal business that uses artificial intelligence, has decided to boost its own AI efforts, according to a person familiar with the company’s strategy. The Washington Post also has not been in negotiations with OpenAI in recent months, said a person familiar with the company’s efforts.

Despite the tension between the news industry and OpenAI, some editorial executives took a measured note on the potential advantages of AI. Jim Friedlich, executive director of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the nonprofit that owns The Philadelphia Inquirer, said news organizations and artificial intelligence companies were “increasingly codependent,” as users wanted technology from artificial intelligence with reliable information.

“It is important for all parties to reach an agreement and, if possible, to do so quickly,” he said. “No one knows if that will take months or years.”