Reddit’s Licensing Agreement with Google

On February 21, 2024, Reuters reported that the social media platform Reddit is partnering with Alphabet-owned Google to make its content available for training Google’s artificial intelligence (“AI”) models. The contract with Alphabet is estimated to be worth about $60 million per year. The announcement preceded Reddit’s February 22 filing for its Initial Public Offering (IPO) and is consistent with Reddit’s efforts to generate new revenue streams and compete for advertising dollars against other platforms like Tik Tok and Meta’s Facebook. Through this partnership, Google will have access to Reddit’s Data Application Programming Interface (“API”), which provides a real-time, efficient way to access the mass amounts of user-generated content on Reddit’s platform and train its models. Notably, Reddit’s Data API Terms and Developer Terms, which prohibit Reddit’s Data API from being used for commercial purposes without Reddit’s consent, are not being changed as of this writing.

To expand the scope of their training data (most of which is copyright-protected), AI developers have recently been striking deals with content owners, while at the same time maintaining that the AI uses are fair use. The New York Times complaint against OpenAI and Microsoft for mass copyright infringement of the Times’ professionally produced journalism, violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, common law unfair competition by misappropriation and trademark dilution will be one of the cases to provide clarity on the effectiveness of the fair use defense. New York Times v. Microsoft Corp., No. 1:23-cv-11195 (S.D.N.Y. 2023).