CommsCo Talk

The AI copyright conundrum: CommsCo Tech Chat with Thomas Macaulay

Article by:Alex Maxwell


AI and journalism have a funny relationship. Before AI’s rise to public prominence, its movements were tracked by a score of tech journalists who would bring to light its growing capabilities and profound qualities for tackling society’s greatest obstacles. Conversely, other journalists would deliver doomsday depictions and project prophecies about its dangers. 

Now, we’re in a media arena where both aspects are loudly showcased on a daily basis. And to ironically compound matters, the same AI technology that has been spotlighted by these journalists is now being trained with their written material and touted as a future threat to their jobs. But is this actually the case? 

As always, the podcast begins with Lee and Tom dissecting the latest news. The pair chat about Apple’s £1.5 billion fine from the EU, how the New York Times lawsuit against OpenAI is a watershed moment (but what about the writers at smaller publications without the financial clout?), and what to expect from the Spring Budget.

Then, without further ado, it’s time to introduce our next guest. 

Introducing… tech and AI journalist Thomas Macaulay

Initially motivated by his love of sport, Thomas worked as an English and sports teacher in India, Thailand and Laos before making his way to journalism. After spending years as a freelance journalist followed by a stint as an online editor for IDG, he now plies his trade as a senior reporter for reputable European tech publication The Next Web. 

Thomas covers “European tech, with a focus on deeptech, startups, and government policy”. Within this spectrum of subjects, AI has been a constant presence in his reporting and he is perfectly positioned to offer his perspectives on all things AI, journalism and everything in between. 

Journalism meets AI 

Kicking off the chat, Thomas discusses his early career days prior to journalism before moving onto describing the changes he’s seen in the industry since starting out and how he identifies whether a tech story is a passing fad or something worth writing about. 

This overview transitions nicely into discussing the biggest topics involving AI and regulation, such as whether proposed legislation, like the EU AI Act, will be tough enough, why he thinks regulation is necessary and his thoughts on the NYT’s lawsuit of OpenAI. 

His take on these industry topics segues into his personal take on the prospect of his own work possibly being used to train AI models, what he thinks ‘smaller’ writers do about this copyright conundrum, and the need for high-profile voices to speak out.

Of course, to draw a curtain on proceedings, Thomas is faced with his greatest challenge yet: the CC Quickfire. Can he answer all the questions and overtake the currently three-strong joint-top leaderboard?

Listen to the full episode here.


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