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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Google’s AI Overview Plagiarized My Original Work

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In Short:

Google’s new AI Overview search feature is causing concern for the future of journalism as it pulls information directly from articles without proper attribution. The AI feature generates answers to queries, using content from web pages, including pulling directly from original works, affecting traffic for publishers. Legal experts are skeptical about copyright infringement cases due to the nature of factual writing. The impact on click-through rates and lack of attribution raise questions about the feature’s ethical implications.

Concerns Over AI Overview Search Result

Last week, an AI Overview search result from Google used one of the articles from WIRED in a way that raises concerns about the future of journalism.

Unexpected Usage of Article

I was experimenting with AI Overviews, Google’s new generative AI feature designed to answer online queries. While asking multiple questions about topics I’ve covered, I noticed that my article was linked at the bottom of the box containing the answer. However, I was surprised to see that the first paragraph of the AI Overview was directly pulled from my writing.

Illustrative Comparison

Comparing a screenshot from my interview with Anthropic’s product developer with Google’s AI Overview on using Anthropic’s chatbot, it appeared that significant portions were directly copied from my article without clear attribution.

Reece Rogers via Google

Attribution Challenges

Even though Google acknowledged that AI-generated summaries may use parts of web content, the actual attribution in the AI Overview did not directly credit my work. The source links were buried at the bottom, making it less likely for publishers to receive significant traffic.

Impact on User Traffic

Google defended AI Overviews as a way to provide a glimpse of information but acknowledged that the feature may reduce the incentive for users to click through to the original source material.

Lack of Data on Click-Through Rates

Google claimed that links included in AI Overviews receive more clicks than traditional listings, but no data was provided to validate this assertion. The comparison was made to general blue-link traffic rather than featured snippets, where click-through rates are typically higher.

After contacting Google about the issue, the AI search result for this query was removed, but attempts were still made to generate an answer above the featured snippet.
Reece Rogers via Google

Potential Legal Implications

Legal experts express skepticism about winning a copyright infringement case in this scenario, given the nature of the content involved. The focus is on differentiating between instructional or fact-based writing and more creative forms of work.

Critical Evaluation

While it’s acknowledged that discussions around chatbot prompts are not unique, the concerns about directly using content without proper attribution highlight the challenges posed by AI-driven platforms.

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