UK Government publishes its response to a public consultation on AI and IP
5 July 2022
The UK Government recently published its response to a public consultation on AI and IP on the following areas:
- Copyright protection for computer-generated works (CGWs) without a human author
- Licensing or exceptions to copyright for text and data mining (TDM), which is often significant in AI use and development
- Patent protection for AI-devised inventions
The response essentially maintains the status quo for copyright for CGWs and patent protection for AI-devised inventions. Having said that, copyright in relation to text and data mining has been significantly adapted, providing a new exception to copyright and database rights that will allow TDM for any purpose where access can be lawfully granted to the data. A key driver for this is to facilitate and encourage an increase in the training data currently available for training AI systems and other related aspects.
What does this mean for those involved in TDM activities in the UK?
The acquisition and licensing of data for a variety of purposes, including the generation of training data specifically adapted for training AI systems, is currently big business in the UK. The response acknowledges that “Intellectual property (IP) gives researchers, inventors, creators, and businesses the confidence to invest their time, energy and money in doing something new. UK business invests more than £130 billion a year in knowledge assets. IP rights protect around £63 billion of this. These assets are vital to the industries that bring us the innovation and products that add value to our lives.”
The government response indicates very clearly however that the copyright exception for TDM will have the following impact:
“Rights holders will no longer be able to charge for UK licences for TDM and will not be able to contract or opt-out of the exception. “
The government response also acknowledges “The new provision may also affect those who have built partial business models around data licensing. “ The government response goes on to indicate that rights holders will still have safeguards to protect their content such as “the requirement for lawful access. That is, rights holders can choose the platform where they make their works available, including charging for access via subscription or single charge. They will also be able to take measures to ensure the integrity and security of their systems.”
It will be interesting to see just how this affects TDM in the UK, particularly where academic institutions make data available under a chargeable licence, if the TDM data is to be used for commercial purposes. If there is no legal way to charge for such an access licence, the Government response, perhaps naively, appears to presume that access will still somehow be made available on a subscription basis or by imposing restrictions on access to the data.
One can speculate however and it could also transpire that the amount of TMD data currently publically available in the UK, but under chargeable licence if used for commercial purposes, will be reduced. The cost of such subscriptions could also be prohibitively expensive. There will be a cost for hosting data sets, especially within secure environments, which allow for unrestricted access only to those entities with a “subscription”. This could also result in increased costs for academic institutions involved in TDM. This is all speculation at present and only time will tell but we can hope that the TDM copyright exception provided under this response really does encourage the UK’s flourishing academic and commercial AI TDM activities rather than damage them, inadvertently or otherwise.
Partner, London and South, European and UK Patent Attorney (Regulated by IPReg)
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