NUJ backs MPs’ recommendations on protection of copyright for creatives from AI developers

  • 30 Aug 2023

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee report advises the government against allowing text and data mining to contravene copyright laws.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said:

“The NUJ welcomes recommendations made by the MPs’ committee which call on the government to ‘not pursue plans for a broad text and data mining exemption to copyright’ and to pursue ‘continuance of a strong copyright regime in the UK and be clear that licences are required to use copyrighted content in AI’. Copyright should not be up for grabs in an indecent haste to embrace AI and the rights of creative workers should not be put at risk. The tech companies must not gain financially by taking journalistic material while not complying to laws on data protection, privacy and copyright.”

Recommendations in the report include:

  • We recommend that the government does not pursue plans for a broad text and data mining exemption to copyright. Instead, the government should proactively support small AI developers in particular, who may find difficulties in acquiring licences, by reviewing how licensing schemes can be introduced for technical material and how mutually-beneficial arrangements can be struck with rights management organisations and creative industries trade bodies. The Government should support the continuance of a strong copyright regime in the UK and be clear that licences are required to use copyrighted content in AI. In line with our previous work, this committee also believes that the Government should act to ensure that creators are well rewarded in the copyright regime.
  • 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.

Summary of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee report:  Connected tech: AI and creative technology

The creative and entertainment potentials of emerging technologies are expansive, providing new ways to distribute content, enhance existing physical experiences and explore immersive virtual worlds. More people are using smart speakers and connected TVs in their homes, more games and leisure activities are incorporating augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies and more artists are relying on digital tools to help bring new creative productions to their audiences. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) has become more sophisticated and better able to generate digital art. However, as we highlighted in our first report on connected tech, while emerging technology can offer many benefits to the creative industries and their consumers, there are also a range of risks and harms associated with their use.

Our report explores the impact of the development of AI. First, we scrutinise the UK’s proposals for regulation of AI in the round, before focusing on the implications of the proposed copyright exemptions for text and data mining (TDM), which risks reducing arts and cultural production as mere “inputs” in AI development. We call on the Government to abandon its plans for a TDM exemption and work to rebuild the trust of the creative industries.

We also evaluate the applications of creative connected technology, from AR/VR to digital and AI-generated art. We explore three case studies, which have shaped our conclusions and recommendations about creative technology and showcase the many different ways that the creative industries are using technology to develop new, immersive cultural experiences. We also consider how the skills shortages in the creative and tech sectors are limiting the growth and potential of creative technology in the UK despite headline successes, and how AI outputs are disrupting traditional cultural production. We recommend that the Government address the issue of skills in its upcoming Cultural Education Plan and ensure that creatives’ rights are protected from AI-generated media in the future.

Image: Matt Kenyon

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