On 30 August 2023, the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee (Committee) published a Report on artificial intelligence and creative technology, entitled: Connected tech: AI and creative technology (Report). 

The Report will be of particular interest to rights holders, their representatives, and also those in the AI development sector, who have been following policy developments in this area closely. 

Earlier this year, we reported on the Getty Images v Stability AI dispute, and commented on the tensions between developers of AI systems and rights holders in IP-rich creative industries. Previously there was a UK government proposal to expand the current text and data mining (TDM) exception in copyright and database right law, beyond only non-commercial research purposes, to the mining of text and data for all purposes. In February 2023 however, the UK Minister for Science, Research and Innovation (George Freeman MP) stated in the House of Commons during a debate on AI, that the Government's proposal to introduce a general TDM copyright and database exception would not be proceeding.

The Report is the latest development that may potentially impact upon future Government policy in the areas of AI and creative technology.

Rights holders will welcome the Committee's conclusions and recommendations in the Report, including that:

  • "The current [regulatory] framework, which provides an exemption for text and data mining for non-commercial research purposes, and otherwise allows creators to licence their work for any further purpose, provides an appropriate balance between innovation and creator rights;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • The Government and its arm’s-length bodies should ensure support for the creative industries encourages artists to push the boundaries of creativity and technology. Cultural institutions should be encouraged and supported by the Government to invest in, present and preserve the results of creative technology; and
  • The Government should improve protections for creatives to prevent misuse of their likeness and performances by emerging technologies such as generative AI."

The Committee recommend in their Report that the Government should provide a substantive update on its direction in managing the impact of AI on the creative industries and any discussions on these matters by the end of 2023.

The Government is on the back foot with regard to policy developments, given its U-turn earlier this year of abandoning amendments to the TDM exception. Whilst the Government has previously sent strong indicators that it wants the UK to be seen as a tech-welcoming jurisdiction and leader in the field of AI, the Report is a solid indicator that, outside Government, parliamentary members are carefully considering the voices within the creative industries. The Report recommends further safeguards for rights holders, and its overall message is that the Government should support the continuance of a strong copyright regime in the UK. Time will tell whether the direction of travel for Government policy will result in the balance of rights being tipped more in favour of rights holders rather than AI developers. We will continue to monitor policy developments in this area closely.

This update contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.