Following this consultation, the Government intends to amend copyright law to make it easier to analyse material for the purposes of machine learning, research and innovation. This will promote the use of AI technology, and wider “data mining” techniques, for the public good.
Data mining is where software is used to analyse material for patterns, trends and other useful information. The Government intends that anyone with lawful access to material protected by copyright should be able to carry out this analysis without further permission from the copyright owner. Among other uses, data mining can be used when training AI systems. For example, machine-learning software which has been trained on large repositories of computer code is able to intelligently suggest new code to programmers.
This data mining provision will take advantage of the UK’s ability to set its own copyright laws now that we have left the EU and will put the UK’s copyright framework among the most AI and research friendly in the world. It will help make the UK a location of choice for data mining and AI development, supporting the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a global leader in AI innovation and research.
This initiative is targeted and will preserve wider copyright protection, including copyright owners’ ability to control who has access to their works. It will bring benefits to a wide range of stakeholders in the UK, including researchers, AI developers, and cultural heritage institutions.
The consultation also considered the extent to which inventions and creative works which are generated by AI should be protected by patents and copyright. The Government has decided that no changes will be made to the UK’s patent inventorship criteria or copyright computer generated works provisions at this time. It will keep AI technical development under review to help ensure that UK inventorship rules continue to support AI innovation and will seek to advance discussions internationally to support the UK’s economic interests.
Science & Innovation Minister George Freeman said:
Now that the UK has the ability to set our own copyright laws for the first time in decades, we want to ensure the UK continues to have one of the best intellectual property frameworks in the world. IP is key to innovation.
That’s why, following our consultation earlier this year, we intend to bring the law up to date, embracing the challenges and opportunities presented by rapid developments in technology. The UK will continue to engage with partners around the world, seeking to lead global conversations as we unleash our potential as an innovation nation.
Our new UK rules on copyright and data mining will act as a catalyst for our innovators to flourish, helping ensure the UK’s IP system remains a powerful enabler for ground-breaking R&D.
David Prosser, Executive Director, Research Libraries UK, said:
The UK is a global research powerhouse and researchers are ready to take advantage of powerful new AI and text and data mining techniques. The proposed changes to copyright announced today will allow us to harness the potential of new, innovative computational tools and significantly advance UK research and innovation.
Dame Wendy Hall, acting AI Council Chair said:
The AI Council’s AI Roadmap recommended that the Government should consider how to redefine intellectual property to incentivise investment and attract world-class talent to develop leading AI products and services here in the UK.
The proposed changes to copyright law announced today will enable the UK’s IP framework to remain relevant, adaptable and keep pace in a changing world. Most importantly, it will encourage UK industries to invest strategically in AI research, development and innovation, with the aim of becoming globally competitive.
Notes to editors:
- the Government consulted on issues relating to intellectual property and AI from October 2021 to January 2022. The consultation followed the Government’s Call for Views on AI and IP in 2020 and was in line with its commitment under the Innovation Strategy and National AI Strategy published in 2021
- the consultation asked if the law takes the right approach to protecting inventions and creations made by AI, and whether steps should be taken to make it easier to use data mining techniques, including machine learning, with copyright material
- a summary of the responses received to the consultation is published on GOV.UK, with the Government response
- rights holders will still be able to control and charge for access to their works and will be able to control their wider use. The only change is that they will no longer be able to charge extra specifically for the ability to mine them
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