Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on Oversight of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Future of Journalism

News/Media Alliance President & CEO Danielle Coffey to Testify About Threats and Opportunities to News from AI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Arlington, VA – Today the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law will hold a hearing at 2:00 p.m. ET, on “Oversight of A.I.: The Future of Journalism,” which will explore the impact of the growth of generative artificial intelligence (GAI) technology on publishers’ ability to provide high-quality journalism and possible oversight mechanisms to help protect and sustain quality journalism.

Witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing include Danielle Coffey, President & CEO of the News/Media Alliance (written testimony here); Roger Lynch, CEO at Condé Nast (written testimony here); Curtis LeGeyt, President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (written testimony here); and author Jeff Jarvis (written testimony here).

Coffey’s comments before the Subcommittee will explain how Generative AI tools exploit news content to compete directly with publishers, yet need quality journalism to train their systems. Coffey will focus on the copyright infringement implications of how GAI developers train and use their models, as well as the need for legislation, including requiring transparency and responsibility from GAI developers, and passing the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA), which would allow publishers to collectively negotiate for fair compensation for use of their content by the dominant tech platforms, such as Meta and Google.

Since generative AI technology took off exponentially last year, the News/Media Alliance has been leading the call for AI companies to seek proper permissions and licensing from publishers for use of their valuable content. Last fall, the Alliance published a White Paper revealing that GAI systems copy massive amounts of publishers’ original works, almost always without authorization or compensation, and publisher content is overweighted in materials used for training these systems. The White Paper and comments the Alliance submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office also explain the legal implications of such use.

In response to the hearing, News/Media Alliance President & CEO, Danielle Coffey stated, “We commend Subcommittee Chair Richard Blumenthal and Ranking Member Josh Hawley and the Senate Judiciary Committee for recognizing the urgent need to address our very serious concerns about the impacts of AI technology on providers of quality journalism, as well as the legal questions this raises. AI companies are scraping our content to compete with it – usually without any compensation to, or permission from the publishers of that content – while they reap all the benefits. This is classic freeriding that infringes publishers’ copyrights and goes far beyond fair use.”

Coffey’s testimony offers multiple suggestions for policymakers, including:

  • Recognizing that unauthorized use of publishers’ expressive content for commercial GAI training and development is likely to compete with and harm publisher businesses in a manner that infringes copyright;
  • Creating transparency requirements to require the recordkeeping and disclosure of unauthorized training uses of material that is protected by copyright, by technical protection measures, or governed by contractual terms prohibiting scraping; and
  • Adopting legislation to remedy existing market imbalances that prevent publishers from engaging in fair negotiations for the use of their content against dominant platforms.

A new report released by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in November found that the rate of newspaper closures has accelerated, now at 2.5 closures per week (with more than 130 confirmed newspaper closings or mergers in the last year), resulting in the expansion of news deserts, in which communities lack a source of local news.

Coffey concluded, “For years the tech platforms have gotten away with using publishers’ content without appropriate compensation. This problem, having gone unaddressed, has been getting worse and now, AI doubles down on the threat the largest tech platforms pose to publishers’ viability. Countries all over the world are introducing and passing legislation requiring the tech platforms to pay news publishers. The United States cannot fall behind other countries and should pass the JCPA, which will ensure publishers can continue to provide important high-quality journalism we all depend on. We have to act now before it’s too late.”

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Media Contact:
Lindsey Loving
Director, Communications
lindsey@newsmediaalliance.org

The News/Media Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,200 news and magazine media organizations and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and globally. Alliance members include print and digital publishers of original journalism. Headquartered just outside Washington, D.C., the association focuses on ensuring the future of journalism through communication, research, advocacy, and innovation. Information about the News/Media Alliance can be found at www.newsmediaalliance.org.

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