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Massive Tech in ‘underground’ race to license archives that can practice Synthetic Intelligence

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Ted Leonard, Chief Executive Officer of Photobucket. File
| Photo Credit: Reuters

At its peak within the early 2000s, Photobucket was the world’s high image-hosting web site. The media spine for once-hot companies resembling Myspace and Friendster, it boasted 70 million customers and accounted for practically half of the U.S. on-line picture market.

Today solely two million folks nonetheless use Photobucket, in keeping with analytics tracker Similarweb. But the generative AI revolution could give it a brand new lease of life.

CEO Ted Leonard, who runs the 40-strong firm out of Edwards, Colorado, mentioned he’s in talks with a number of tech firms to license Photobucket’s 13 billion photographs and movies for use to coach generative AI fashions that may produce new content material in response to textual content prompts.

“He has discussed rates of between five cents and $1 dollar per photo and more than $1 per video,” he mentioned, with costs various extensively each by the customer and the forms of imagery sought. “We’ve spoken to companies that have said, ‘we need way more,’ Mr. Leonard added, with one buyer telling him they wanted over a billion videos.

Photobucket declined to identify its prospective buyers, citing commercial confidentiality. The ongoing negotiations, which haven’t been previously reported, suggest the company could be sitting on billions of dollars’ worth of content and give a glimpse into a bustling data market that’s arising in the rush to dominate generative AI technology.

Tech giants such as Google, Meta, and Microsoft-backed OpenAI initially used reams of data scraped from the internet for free to train generative AI models such as ChatGPT that can mimic human creativity. They have said that doing so is both legal and ethical, though they face lawsuits from a string of copyright holders over the practice.

At the same time, these tech companies are also quietly paying for content locked behind paywalls and login screens, giving rise to a hidden trade in everything from chat logs to long forgotten personal photos from faded social media apps.

“There is a rush right now to go for copyright holders that have private collections of stuff that is not available to be scraped,” mentioned Edward Klaris from legislation agency Klaris Law, which says it’s advising content material house owners on offers value tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} apiece to license archives of photographs, motion pictures and books for AI coaching.

Reuters spoke to greater than 30 folks with data of AI information offers OpenAI, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon all declined to remark. Many main market analysis companies say they haven’t even begun to estimate the scale of the opaque AI information market, the place firms usually don’t disclose agreements. Those researchers who do, resembling Business Research Insights, put the market at roughly $2.5 billion now and forecast it may develop near $30 billion inside a decade.

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