The future of music

UK government confirms it will not press ahead with a copyright exemption for AI training

January 16, 2024
UK copyright

Key takeaways

  • The UK government has U-turned on a proposed copyright exemption for AI companies.
  • This would have allowed AI companies to freely mine data to build their tools.
  • After strong resistance and a parliamentary committee, they confirmed this would not go ahead.

As described in a report published by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the UK government has confirmed that it doesn’t intend to proceed with its previous plan to introduce a wide-ranging text and data mining copyright exemption for AI companies.

This would have allowed AI companies to freely scrape data to build their products.

The government’s response gives some hope to creators who fear their work being scraped to train AI models, a process that infringes on their copyright. 

The Government must work to regain the trust of the creative industries following its
abortive attempt to introduce a broad text and data mining exemption. The Government
should consider how creatives can ensure transparency and, if necessary, recourse and
redress if they suspect that AI developers are wrongfully using their works in AI development.

House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee

However, companies like OpenAI are already lobbying to find a way around this, as evidenced by OpenAI’s submission of evidence to the House of Lords, which said AI must access “the full diversity and breadth of human intelligence and experience” contained in protected works since today’s copyright law covers “virtually every sort of human expression.”

Similarly, OpenUK raised concerns that without more exceptions, AI development will wind up “further stifled by a new code of conduct restricting … legitimate use.”

However, media industry groups maintain licensing can enable mutually beneficial AI innovation.

Observers are now awaiting any draft code of conduct to see how any form of licensing could work or whether AI companies take notice. 

Also, while the government has prevented a ‘wide-ranging’ exemption to copyright, that doesn’t preclude any type of deal from taking place.

This comes as the Council of Music Makers (CMM) calls for increased engagement between record labels and musicians regarding AI. For now, there’s cautious optimism about safeguarding copyright material from AI companies – emphasis on the for now.

You can see some community reaction along those lines below.

What the UK government response says

The UK government responded to a recent parliamentary committee report on “Connected Tech: AI and Creative Technology.” 

Key parts of the government response include:

AI regulation

  • Recognizes the need to ensure all regulators can effectively oversee AI, including providing expertise and coordination. A central “risk function” and cross-government committee will aim to develop a coherent regulatory regime for AI. The UK currently lacks AI-specific regulation.

Copyright and intellectual property

  • Confirms it is NOT proceeding with a proposed broad copyright exemption for text and data mining that could have benefited AI companies. This responds to strong opposition from creative industries.
  • Instead, the government will develop a “code of practice on copyright and AI” through an industry working group. This aims to enable AI and creative sectors to grow together.
  • Provides funding and support for AI adoption in the creative industries while aiming to incentivize continued creativity and originality. Ongoing stakeholder engagement occurring on IP issues.
  • Intends to publish outcomes of the copyright/AI working group in early 2024 to take a “balanced and pragmatic approach.”

It is vitally important that AI-generated content does not supplant the work of our musicians,
filmmakers and journalists. The concerns of these sectors, particularly in the relationship
between intellectual property and generative AI, and the profound potential implications
for human creativity, are therefore a key element of the Government’s broader work on
AI-related policy.

House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Overall, the government response demonstrates a commitment to support AI innovation in ways that protect rights and interests across sectors.

Ongoing regulatory and policy development will shape the AI landscape in the months ahead.

Sam Jeans

Writer and digital artist who has been covering the latest AI-related news, including generative AI and its influence on the creative industries. Sam plays drums and has been writing for tech and music sites since 2016.

view profile

AI-generated music for dogs
Previous Story

AI music for dogs: science and AI merge in this heartwarming new app

Napster's virtual hangouts
Next Story

Napster’s ‘virtual hangouts’: a bold leap into the Metaverse and Web3

Latest from News