July 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Quora’s Chatbot Poe platform allows users to download paywalled articles on demand

Quora’s Chatbot Poe platform allows users to download paywalled articles on demand

Poe, an AI-powered chatbot platform owned and powered by Q&A site Quora $75 million investment in Andreessen Horowitzprovides users with downloadable HTML files of articles published by paywalled journalistic outlets.

Asking the service’s assistant bot to use the URL of this WIRED story about the AI-powered search service Perplexity stealing one of our stories, for example, results in a detailed synopsis of 235 words and 1MB file It contains an HTML snapshot of the entire article, which users can download from Poe servers directly from the chatbot.

Similarly, WIRED was able to retrieve articles from sites that charge fees, including The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Atlantic, Forbes, Defector, and 404 Media, in downloadable formats simply by entering URLs into the Assistant bot’s interface. This appears to be just the latest example of the AI ​​industry’s reckless approach to intellectual property law, which is rapidly undermining established business models in fields like journalism and music.

“This is an important copyright issue,” James Grimmelman, a professor of digital and information law at Cornell University, wrote in an email. “Because they created a copy on their server, this is prima facie copyright infringement.” (Quora disagrees, comparing Poe to a cloud storage service.)

When the bot was asked to summarize the content of a test site controlled by my colleague Drew Mehrotra, the bot did not return a summary but an HTML file. According to the site’s server logs, immediately after asking the bot to summarize the site, a server identifying itself as “Quora Bot” visited the site. He did not attempt to visit the site’s robots.txt page, suggesting that Poe and Quora are ignoring the Robot Exclusion Protocol, a widely accepted if not legally binding web standard.

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A senior media executive, whom WIRED granted anonymity to discuss a legally sensitive matter that his company is actively investigating, says his publication also observed servers identifying themselves as Quora bots arriving at their site immediately after giving Poe’s chatbots prompts about specific articles; he says these prompts yielded much or all of the text of those articles.

“Poe is a platform that allows users to ask questions and engage in back-and-forth dialogue with a variety of AI-powered bots provided by third parties,” Quora spokesperson Autumn Besselman wrote in an email. “We do not have or train our own AI models. Poe has a feature that enables a user to show the contents of a URL to a bot, but the bot will only see the content that the domain serves it. We would be happy to liaise with your technical team to help them ensure they are not serving blocker-protected content Unpaid subscription for people who use Poe.”

“File attachments on Poe are created at the direction of users and operate similarly to cloud storage services, ‘read it later’ services, and ‘web clipper’ products, all of which we believe are compliant with copyright law,” Besselman wrote in response to an email asking follow-up questions. Andreessen Horowitz did not respond to a request for comment.