UK Music calls proposed mining copyright exception ‘dangerous and harmful’

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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Thursday July 7th, 2022

UK Music has proposed a new copyright exception that would cover any and all text and data extracts, which the government plans to introduce as part of reforms to support all things artificial intelligence . The proposed new exception is “dangerous and harmful” and would simply allow AI companies to “launder” music in order to generate new content, the music industry’s cross-industry trade group believes.

The proposed new copyright exception follows a review of how intellectual property laws in the UK deal with AI. Among other things, the review looked at the copyright status of works created by AI, and also whether copyright law should facilitate data mining better than many AI companies. undertake in order to form their technologies.

Whether or not content created by AI technology should benefit from copyright protection has been a subject of great debate in recent years, as such technologies have become more common. In many countries, the debate revolves around whether or not copyright law should be revised to specifically protect such works.

However, UK copyright law already provides protection for what it calls ‘computer generated’ works. This review therefore looked at whether or not that protection should be removed, with some people arguing that copyright protection should only apply to human-made works and/or that copyright law copyright should be drafted in such a way as to protect human creativity from the competition posed by creations. AI technologies.

But the conclusion of the government’s review was that, in this area, UK copyright law should remain unchanged. “For computer-generated works, we do not anticipate any changes to the law,” a new report said last week.

“There is no evidence at present that protecting computer-generated works is harmful, and the use of AI is still in its infancy,” he added. “As such, proper assessment of options is not possible, and any changes could have unintended consequences. We will keep the law under review and may modify, replace or remove the protection in the future if the evidence confirms it”.

However, when it comes to data mining, a change in the law is now on the agenda. Artificial intelligence technologies generally learn by analyzing lots of data. And while the facts and trends analyzed in this process are not copyrighted, the files or databases accessed usually are, which means the maker of the AI ​​technology must obtain permission from whoever owns the copyright to that content.

The government’s review noted that “some rights holders allow their works to allow text and data mining, but others do not.” And even where licenses are available, “it has financial costs for people using mining software.”

“The consultation aimed to gather opinions on how to facilitate the extraction of data from copyrighted material,” explained last week’s report. “He did this with the aim of supporting AI and wider innovation in the UK, in line with the government’s AI, data and innovation priorities.”

One proposal is to introduce a copyright exception, so that people can analyze and examine data contained in copyrighted materials without a licence. Such an exception already exists in the UK for non-commercial research, and a broader data mining exception is already available elsewhere in the world.

The government report made specific reference to such exceptions in the European Union, Japan and Singapore, and also added that data mining could be covered by the related principle of fair use under US data protection law. copyright.

And, he then said, the UK government now thinks such a broader exception for data mining should also be available here. “Introducing an exception that applies to commercial text and data mining will bring benefits to a wide range of stakeholders in the UK,” the report says. “These include researchers, AI developers, small businesses, cultural heritage institutions, journalists and engaged citizens.”

This exception means that people and companies developing music-based AI technologies will likely be able to exploit databases of music content without needing a license from whoever owns the copyright to that content. music. Which – the music industry would like everyone to know – is a very bad idea.

Responding to last week’s proposal for the data mining exception, UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin sent a letter to (for now) Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries stating: ” We are very concerned about plans to allow third parties to use creative works, including music, for data mining purposes, without the creators and rightsholders needing to provide permission.”

“It would significantly undermine the basic principles on which the creative industries are based and run counter to the welcome ambition you have set out to protect our cutting-edge creative industries and build on their success,” the letter continued. “We seek your urgent intervention to reject the current plan ahead of any decision to move the legislation forward.”

“Before the pandemic, the music industry was worth £5.8 billion to the economy, generated exports of £2.9 billion and employed nearly 200,000 people,” he continues. “It is a key part of the UK’s globally recognized creative industries, which are worth over £100billion to the UK – and much of that success is down to our strong copyright laws. author. However, the data mining proposals risk undermining this framework and causing significant damage to a range of sectors.”

“UK Music supports attempts to develop the UK’s AI industry,” the letter underlines, but adds: “This cannot be achieved by removing vital tools that enable the music industry and ‘other sectors dependent on intellectual property to innovate’.

“These proposals are dangerous to the future prospects of our globally successful sector,” the letter concludes, before directly asking the Minister of Culture: “As someone who has always defended our main global creative industries and who knows From personal experience how important strong copyright protections are, we ask for your support to help ensure this does not continue.”

Commenting on the letter, Njoku-Goodwin says: “These proposals would give the green light for music laundering – if the government really wants the UK creative industries to be world leaders, they must urgently rethink these plans.”

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