A new deal struck between the Associated Press and OpenAI helps Realtors in the long run.

The Associated Press (AP) has struck an agreement with OpenAI ChatGPT to license its content to the company. This is a massive move for Artificial Intelligence (AI) copyright law as the AP would agree to have its information sourced in exchange for public usage by OpenAI paying for the use of the content created.

OpenAI ChatGPT has created a phenomenon that has shaken up big tech and could also cause publishers to adjust their business models, including Multiple Listing Services that Realtors all over the country use.

The battle over copyright law and the use of OpenAI is a constant right now, especially in the real estate industry.

In an article by Victor Lund at WAVGroup, he writes that use of ChatGPT is “probably an MLS violation.”  He cites the license agreement that Realtors agree to abide by when participating in the MLS.

He further states that brokers agree the data entered into the MLS remains the broker’s property and also warrants that the “information entered into the MLS is not subject to any third-party copyright.”

By entering information into the MLS, system, he claims the similar context of creating a piece of artwork. However, there are some significant stumbling blocks to the MLS claiming copyright infringement.

First, the article does not take into account the API setup that allows a user to upload previous property descriptions, also known as “remarks,” the licensee has written. When this is done, the system can create a description in the voice of the writer and make it sound as if the user wrote the material itself. Why should that not be allowable if the user created the other 300 descriptions used to create the voice?

Another defense would be that licensees are allowed to have someone else, often an appraiser, measure the property for square footage. The licensee then publishes that information and is responsible for its accuracy. MLS systems have had no issue with this for decades.

MLS systems allow licensees to have a professional photographer and videographer take photos used in for listing purposes. Those are used under a copyright agreement usually with the photographer/videographer.

In the listing process, Realtors also use information from tax records and permitting offices where the information is duplicated into the MLS because it is “public record.”

Ultimately, the argument could be that the MLS information is nothing more than an aggregate system pulling from multiple sources, which is the same thing that AI systems like ChatGPT do.

Zillow, Realtor.com and other national sites have been aggregating information for years while also using MLS data which the National Association of Realtors has condoned. With that, it would be a challenge for any MLS to try to enforce the interpretation of the rules which Mr. Lund attempts to imply.

Until the US Copyright Office rules on this in a court decision, it will be difficult for individual MLS systems to limit the use of AI. Once that happens, that precedent could bring into question all of the information used to populate an MLS listing.

At the same time, any AI user should be careful in the usage of the raw data that is returned from a prompt. Grammar, spelling and incorrect usage of punctuation are often cited as reasons to proofread anything created by an AI language model.

Many news organizations are still evaluating language model generative AI tools from different companies. AP is the first to strike a deal.

Several other publishers are seeking payments for the use of their content. Because there is no precedent in the industry, determining a fair value for what they produce has not been established.

News Corp, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, has been working with consultants to assess the value of the content it creates. Google also appears to be targeting this business model with a system reportedly called, “Genesis.”

The AP did not disclose the terms of its deal, other than to say the “favored nations clause” reflects the uncertainty in the future value of the information shared. The favored nation clause allows the AP to reset the terms of the agreement if another company comes along and gets a better deal.