Quora’s Poe Chatbot Platform Now Enables On-Demand Downloads of Paywalled Articles

By Tim Marchman

Poe, an AI chatbot platform owned by the question-and-answer site Quora and backed by a $75 million Andreessen Horowitz investment, is providing users with downloadable HTML files of articles published by paywalled journalistic outlets.

Prompting the service’s Assistant bot with the URL of this WIRED story about the AI-powered search service Perplexity plagiarizing one of our stories, for example, yields a detailed, 235-word summary and a 1-MB file containing an HTML capture of the entire article, which users can download from Poe’s servers directly from the chatbot.

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

“This is a significant copyright issue,” James Grimmelmann, professor of digital and information law at Cornell University, wrote in an email. “Because they made a copy on their own server, that’s prima facie copyright infringement.” (Quora disputes this, comparing Poe to a cloud storage service.)

When asked to summarize the content of a test website controlled by my colleague Dhruv Mehrotra, the bot did not return a summary but did return an HTML file. According to the website’s server logs, immediately after the Assistant bot was prompted to summarize the site, a server identifying itself as “Quora Bot” visited the site. It did not attempt to visit the site’s robots.txt page, suggesting that Poe and Quora ignore the Robots Exclusion Protocol, a widely accepted though not legally binding web standard.

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

“Poe is a platform that lets users ask questions and have back-and-forth dialog 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 content that it is served by the domain. We would be happy to connect with your technical team to help them make sure your paywalled content isn’t served to people using Poe.”

“The 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, which we believe are all consistent with copyright law,” Besselman wrote in response to an email asking follow-up questions. Andreessen Horowitz did not respond to a request for comment.

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Quora cofounder Adam D’Angelo is a former Facebook CTO as well as an OpenAI board member. (D’Angelo was among the board members who voted to fire OpenAI CEO Sam Altman last year and was the only member who subsequently joined a new board formed after Altman’s return.) In March, nearly three months after Andreessen Horowitz announced that it had led a funding round for Quora, he sat for an interview with David George, a general partner at the venture firm who asked about the relationship between Quora and Poe.

“We’d love to have all of this as integrated as possible,” said D’Angelo. “If you think about the relationship between Facebook and Facebook Messenger, these are two products built by the same company, but they share a lot. I think that Poe and Quora might evolve to a similar kind of relationship. We’d love to get more of the human aspects of Quora into Poe. We’d also love to get the whole Quora dataset into the Poe bots and we’re also working—we’ve launched some of this already—to get some of the Poe AI to generate answers that are available on Quora.”

A user who goes to Poe’s website is prompted to start a chat with one of a number of chatbots. These range from bots offering direct access to various large language models and specialized bots like Mrstherapist (“Your very own therapist with relationship, trauma, stress etc.”) to the Assistant bot, the default option.


The Assistant bot is designated on the site as “by Poe” and as powered by AI firm Anthropic. This doesn’t mean that the bot is Anthropic’s; as the company points out, customers with access to its API can implement its models in their own products however they see fit. Claude, the Anthropic model on which the Assistant bot is apparently built, does not have access to the internet but can work with text provided to it—in this case, seemingly, by Quora crawlers that scrape websites in response to prompts. The HTML file the Assistant bot offers for download after being prompted with an article’s URL re-creates the article when opened in a browser, making it functionally equivalent to a PDF file.

Journalism companies have threatened and carried out legal action over claims that AI companies are infringing on their copyrights. The New York Times, for example, is suing OpenAI and Microsoft alleging infringement, and Forbes reportedly recently sent Perplexity a letter accusing it of “willful infringement.” (OpenAI, Microsoft, and Perplexity have denied wrongdoing.) Publishers whose articles WIRED was able to download were furious when apprised of the situation.

“As the law and The Times’ terms of service make clear,” wrote Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesperson for The New York Times, in an email, “scraping or reproducing The Times’ content is prohibited without our prior written permission.”

“These stupid chatbots drive me crazy,” wrote Defector co-owner and editor in chief Tom Ley in a text message. “Defector does not condone having its precious blogs stolen by a dumb chatbot backed by egghead-ass Andreessen Horowitz.”


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