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Government to boost AI data mining research in copyright law change

Text and data mining will be allowed for any purpose, with aim of making UK an AI powerhouse

A model of a head with simple shapes inside to suggest a brain sits in front of a pile of books

The UK Government today announced plans to amend copyright law to allow greater analysis of licenced material to support machine learning and wider research into artificial intelligence.

Following the change, anyone with lawful access to copyrighted material will be able to submit it to text and data mining for any purpose, and will not be legally required to inform the copyright owner about this. 

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It is hoped that the move will assist researchers looking into artificial intelligence and wider data mining techniques, which frequently use copyright-protected material as a source of information, and attract overseas researchers looking for better access to such materials.

Plans were announced following an open consultation that ran from October 2021 to January 2022. The Intellectual Property Office has stressed that wider copyright protection will remain in place and that copyright owners will retain their ability to choose who can access their work, and where.

Plans also named AI developers, small businesses, cultural heritage institutions, journalists and engaged citizens as those most likely to benefit from the change.

As part of the consultation, the government also assessed laws around the copyright protection for computer-generated works without a human author and patent protection for the inventions of artificial intelligence. Ultimately both areas were left unchanged, but will remain under review and could change based on future evidence.

“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,” said Science & Innovation Minister George Freeman.

Acting AI Council Chair, Dame Wendy Hall, welcomed the change and outlined its implications for Britain in the global market:

“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”

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