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Google’s A.I. Search Leaves Publishers Scrambling

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the tensions between tech companies, particularly Google, and publishers over the use of news content in AI-generated summaries. It explores how the introduction of Google's AI Overviews feature, which provides AI-generated summaries at the top of search results, has alarmed publishers who fear it will reduce traffic to their websites.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The impact of Google's AI Overviews feature on publishers

1. What are the key concerns of publishers regarding Google's AI Overviews feature?

  • Publishers are worried that the AI-generated summaries will significantly reduce the amount of traffic to their websites from Google, as users may not need to click through to the original articles.
  • They feel that the AI Overviews feature "potentially chokes off the original creators of the content" and represents another step towards generative AI replacing the publications that it has "cannibalized".
  • Publishers are in a "vexing position" as they want their sites to be listed in Google's search results, which can generate a significant portion of their traffic, but doing so means Google can use their content in the AI Overviews summaries.

2. What options do publishers have to address the AI Overviews issue?

  • Publishers could try to protect their content from Google by forbidding its web crawler from sharing any content snippets from their sites, but then their links would show up without any description, making people less likely to click.
  • Another alternative of refusing to be indexed by Google at all could be "fatal to their business", as they cannot afford to not appear on the search engine.

3. How have some publishers responded to the AI Overviews feature?

  • The News/Media Alliance, a trade group of 2,000 newspapers, has sent a letter to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission urging them to investigate Google's "misappropriation" of news content and stop the company from rolling out AI Overviews.
  • Some publishers are investing more in building direct relationships with readers, such as through email newsletters and text messaging, to be less reliant on search engines.

[02] The legal dispute over the use of news content in AI

1. What is the legal dispute between publishers and tech companies over the use of news content in AI?

  • The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming copyright infringement of news content related to the training and servicing of AI systems.
  • Seven newspapers owned by Media News Group and Tribune Publishing, including The Chicago Tribune, brought a similar suit against the same tech companies.
  • OpenAI and Microsoft have denied any wrongdoing.

2. How has OpenAI responded to the legal dispute?

  • OpenAI, which had scraped news sites to build ChatGPT, started cutting deals with publishers to pay them for accessing their content.
  • This includes deals with companies like The Associated Press, The Atlantic, and News Corp. (which owns The Wall Street Journal).

3. How has Google responded to the calls for compensation for news content used in AI?

  • Google, whose ad technology helps publishers make money, has not yet signed similar deals to pay publishers for the use of their content.
  • The internet giant has long resisted calls to compensate media companies for their content, arguing that such payments would undermine the nature of the open web.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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