Sunday, April 7, 2024

"Inside Big Tech's underground race to buy AI training data"

From Reuters, April 5:

At its peak in the early 2000s, Photobucket was the world's top image-hosting site. The media backbone for once-hot services like Myspace and Friendster, it boasted 70 million users and accounted for nearly half of the U.S. online photo market.

Today only 2 million people still use Photobucket, according to analytics tracker Similarweb. But the generative AI revolution may give it a new lease of life.
CEO Ted Leonard, who runs the 40-strong company out of Edwards, Colorado, told Reuters he is in talks with multiple tech companies to license Photobucket's 13 billion photos and videos to be used to train generative AI models that can produce new content in response to text prompts.
He has discussed rates of between 5 cents and $1 dollar per photo and more than $1 per video, he said, with prices varying widely both by the buyer and the types of imagery sought.
"We've spoken to companies that have said, 'we need way more,' Leonard added, with one buyer telling him they wanted over a billion videos, more than his platform has.
"You scratch your head and say, where do you get that?"
Photobucket declined to identify its prospective buyers, citing commercial confidentiality. The ongoing negotiations, which haven't been previously reported, suggest the company could be sitting on billions of dollars' worth of content and give a glimpse into a bustling data market that's arising in the rush to dominate generative AI technology....