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UK announces new copyright exemption for text and data mining to promote AI development

Published on 10 October 2022

The question

What does the UK Government’s response to its consultation on Intellectual Property (IP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) mean for text and data mining?

The key takeaway

The new text and data mining (TDM) rules are a positive move for companies developing AI. However, rights holders will need to be mindful of how they monetise access to their works as well as ensuring its security and integrity.

The background

The UK government has published its response to a public consultation on AI and IP in which it has proposed a change to copyright law that would allow the mining of third-party data for the purposes of machine learning. 

TDM is a process by which software is used to analyse material for patterns, trends and other useful information which can then be applied in a variety of situations and contexts. With regards to copyright law, the current exception allows TDM for non-commercial purposes, on the condition that the AI developer has lawful access to the IP (for example via a licence or subscription). This still imposes significant hurdles in terms of the use of the data and discourages businesses from investing in AI development.

The updated law will now allow TDM for any purpose far beyond research whilst also not allowing the rightsholder to opt out. The Intellectual Property Office notes that this will promote the use of AI technology as well as wider TDM techniques that will ultimately benefit the public.

The development

The Government believes that the widening of the purpose for which developers can actively mine data sets will actively promote AI development and ultimately benefit a wide range of stakeholders in the UK. This extends not only to AI developers and researchers but also small businesses, cultural heritage institutions and journalists to name a few. The Government also believes that due to the widening of the exception, the research outcomes will be of benefit to the public by supporting research and innovation in public health amongst other benefits. 

For TDM advocates and users, the clear benefit is the reduction in the time needed to obtain permission from multiple rights holders in order to access the data as well as the lack of extra licence fees. It is understood that this will speed up the TDM process and act as a catalyst for the further development of AI.

Why is this important?

Rights holders will no longer be able to charge additional fees for UK licences for TDM and will not be able to contract or opt out of the exception. The new provision may therefore affect those who have structured their business models around data licensing. There will be a requirement for lawful access which will allow rights holders to choose the platform where they make their works available, including being able to charge for access via subscription or single charge.

Any practical tips?

For the rights holders, utilising safeguards to protect their content such as the requirement for lawful access will be paramount. They will need to be creative when choosing the platform through which they make their works available and the charging structure for providing access. Additionally, rights holders will be permitted under the new exception to take measures to ensure the integrity and security of their systems. This should be carefully considered especially due to the expansion of access.

Autumn 2022