Schumacher Family Awarded GBP 170,000 In Compensation Over AI-Fabricated Interview

A magazine publisher has paid Michael Schumacher’s family GBP 170,000 after publishing an AI-generated interview with the seven-time Formula One champion, falsely presenting it as a world-first exclusive.

Picture shows Michael Schumacher, undated. He fell badly in the French Alps and suffered severe head injuries. (Newsflash)

The racing legend’s family secured EUR 200,000 (GBP 170,321) compensation from Funke Mediengruppe, publishers of Die Aktuelle, after it published the so-called “first interview” with the racing legend, since his skiing accident in 2013.

The Munich Labour Court confirmed a settlement was made with the magazine’s parent firm Funke Media after the family of Schumacher threatened legal action. The details came out during an employment case brought by former Die Aktuelle editor Anne Hoffmann who was sacked after deciding to print the story.

The court ultimately upheld Hoffmann’s complaint that she was unfairly dismissed, raising the possibility that the publisher may have to pay not only Schumacher’s family but also their former editor. However, they are currently appealing the labour court judgement that the dismissal was disproportionate at the state labour court.

Giving its reasons for the decision, the court pointed out that there had been discussions between the publisher and the family that they stop coverage of Schumacher in order to reduce a compensatory payment, but this was not passed on to the editor, who continued to do Schumacher stories and was later dismissed. The court found that the publisher should have been given clear guidelines about any restrictions on reporting about the family.

Die Aktuelle, a weekly magazine headquartered in Essen, Germany, described the interview as “a world sensation” on its cover in April last year.

However, it revealed only at the end that the conversation was an AI-fabricated article, and published it without the permission of Schumacher’s family.

The German Press Council, the country’s voluntary self-regulatory body of the print and online media, criticised the alleged interview, saying: “This serious misleading of the readership is likely to damage the credibility of the press.”

Soon after, Schumacher’s family announced legal action against Funke Mediengruppe, prompting them to immediately order her to step down and also issue an apology on 21st April, two days after the article came out.

Image shows the magazine cover of die Aktuelle, showing the AI generated interview with Michael Schumacher, 55, undated photo. Schumacher’s family was awarded EUR 200,000 (GBP 170,321) in damages. (Newsflash)

Funke managing director Bianca Pohlmann said in the statement, which was obtained by Newsflash: “This tasteless and misleading article should never have been published.

“It in no way meets the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect from a publisher like Funke.”

The statement continued: “Hoffmann, editor-in-chief of “die aktuelle”, who has been responsible for the paper’s journalistic work since 2009, is being relieved of her duties effective today.”

Schumacher, 55, has remained out of the public eye since sustaining a severe brain injury in a skiing accident during a family holiday in the French Alps in December 2013.

He was put in an induced coma and brought home in September 2014. His family has kept his medical condition private.