At a Senate hearing on the impact of AI on journalism, US lawmakers backed the media industry’s call for tech giants such as Meta, Google and OpenAI to pay for licensing news articles and other data used to train their algorithms. But Professor Jeff Jarvis disagreed.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Josh Hawley agreed that AI companies should compensate media outlets for using their work in AI projects. Blumenthal, chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, called this payment both “morally right” and “legally required”.
Media industry leaders, including CEOs of the National Association of Broadcasters, News Media Alliance, and Condé Nast, advocated for mandatory licensing. Danielle Coffey, CEO of the News Media Alliance referred to training data scraped without consent as “stolen goods.”
They argued that AI companies are infringing on copyright under current law and urged lawmakers to clarify that using journalistic content without licensing agreements is not protected by fair use.
But journalism professor Jeff Jarvis disagreed, saying, “I must say that I am offended to see publishers lobbying for protectionist legislation, trading the political capital earned through journalism.”
Jarvis argued that using data without payment is fair use, that compulsory licensing would damage the information ecosystem, and that he was “delighted” to see his books included in LLM training datasets. “Let us rethink copyright for this age.” Watch his full opening remarks below.
Jeff Jarvis is an American journalist, associate professor, public speaker, and former television critic. He has worked for the Chicago Tribune, TV Guide, and People Magazine. Jarvis proposed the idea for Entertainment Weekly in 1984 and served as its founder and managing editor. He is currently an associate professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and co-hosts the podcast This Week in Google.