UK AI & IP consultation – new copyright and database exception allowing text and data mining for any purpose
The UK Government has issued its response to a consultation recently conducted into artificial intelligence and intellectual property. The consultation, discussed in a series of previous newsletter articles, explored three areas of patent and copyright law particularly relevant to the commercial exploitation of AI.
In a significant change to the law, the UK Government has decided to extend the existing exception to copyright for text and data mining (TDM), previously limited to non-commercial research, to allow TDM for any purpose. AI systems are regularly trained using TDM on sets of data which, due to their large size and diversity, contain copyrighted material. The UK Government’s decision allows these to be used without risk of copyright infringement and is therefore likely to be welcomed by developers and users of AI, for whom copyright may have previously acted as a barrier to development and commercial exploitation. However, this move represents the UK Government coming off the fence squarely on the side of users rather than licensors, and the impact could be significant for those who currently offer licenses for the purpose of TDM. It remains to be seen how the exception will be implemented, with the possibility of AI being used to “wash” copyright from source material a potential concern.
The consultation also considered the copyright protection of computer-generated works and patent protection for AI-devised inventions. In these areas, the UK Government has decided to make no change to the existing law for now, but will keep the law under review.
A detailed analysis of the UK Government’s response and the potential impacts for rights holders and users will be provided in a future D Young & Co newsletter.