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Danish Media on the Brink of Legal Battle with OpenAI Over Copyright Dispute

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Danish Press Considers Legal Action Against OpenAI

In a new confrontation involving artificial intelligence and the journalism sector, prominent newspapers and broadcasters in Denmark are considering legal action against OpenAI. They demand compensation from the tech giant, claiming it utilized their material to educate its algorithms.

"Karen Rønde, the chief executive of the Danish Press Publications’ Collective Management Organization (DPCMO) — an entity that stands for 99 percent of Danish media organizations, encompassing national broadcaster DR and TV 2 — is demanding compensation for the utilization of their content to enhance their algorithm. Rønde has indicated that DPCMO is prepared to initiate legal action if an agreement isn't finalized within the coming year."

The advent of artificial intelligence has sparked a fresh battleground in the realm of copyright legislation, following allegations that OpenAI, supported by Microsoft, engaged in unauthorized extraction of content from news organizations' websites to educate its AI systems. In the wake of these legal challenges, OpenAI secured a number of agreements with prominent publishers, granting the firm the rights to utilize their material for training subsequent versions of ChatGPT. The financial specifics of these agreements remain undisclosed.

Currently, media outlets in Denmark are pushing OpenAI to engage in collective bargaining, a unique strategy that might serve as an example for other small nations if it proves effective. Up until now, OpenAI has been forming agreements on a one-on-one basis with various publishers, having revealed collaborations with the Financial Times and the Atlantic, along with German media giant Axel Springer, French publication Le Monde, and the Spanish organization Prisa.

Following her discussions with OpenAI, both virtual and face-to-face, earlier in the year, Rønde came away feeling that Denmark wasn't high on the organization's list of priorities. "The emphasis was evidently on the agreements in Germany, France, Spain, and obviously, those in the United States," she notes. "This leaves a vast number of content creators in other regions without any support."

Rønde has dispatched a communique to the legal representative of OpenAI at the Netherlands-based Brinkhof, highlighting the specifics of Denmark's copyright legislation, and is awaiting their reply. She assumes that OpenAI has utilized material from Danish news outlets, given the absence of any clarification to the contrary from the company. Both OpenAI and Brinkhof have not responded to inquiries from WIRED seeking their comments.

For Rønde, acting swiftly is crucial. She aims to secure agreements with both OpenAI and Google’s Gemini within the upcoming year to preempt the increasing dominance of AI chatbots and search engine summaries, which she fears will further diminish the relevance of publishers' websites. She expresses concern that delaying these partnerships might lead to a significant devaluation of press publishers' content in the near future. "Should we fail to finalize a partnership soon, we'll be compelled to assert our legal rights," she states.

In 2021, the DPCMO was established to assist Danish media in their negotiations with major technology companies. "It was crucial for us to come together; we were concerned that Denmark's small size would lead to us being overlooked in talks with Big Tech," Rønde remarked.

In the previous year, the organization obtained initial licensing deals with Bing from Microsoft and Google, allowing content from Danish publishers to be displayed in these search engines. While these agreements specified that the publishers would receive payment from both firms, the exact compensation amounts were not determined.

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