August 1, 2022
On 20 July 2022, the NMA reported that content creators from across organisations representing photographers, music publishers, filmmakers, libraries, magazines, the Premier League and the NMA, had written to the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, warning that the Government’s proposed change regarding the text and data mining exception, as outlined in its response to its consultation on “Artificial Intelligence and IP: copyright and patents”, would “fundamentally undermine” investment in the content and data on which AI technologies rely and the UK’s “gold standard” copyright framework.
The letter stated: “We are writing to express our serious concern at the recent decision by your Department to weaken the UK’s copyright framework by introducing a text and data mining exception for any purpose, whether commercial or non-commercial”.
Whilst the signatories fully support developing AI-driven technologies, the letter noted that the proposed change would “fundamentally undermine investment in the content and data on which AI technologies rely”. Further, it said that the decision would undermine existing business models across many sectors and had been made “without either understanding the impact the policy will have on the multiple distinct markets which rely upon the creation and management of data as a central tenet of their business models or explaining the market failure that exists to warrant such a major government intervention in a well-functioning market overall”.
The letter continued: “The precedent it sets for how intellectual property and copyright policy is developed is also concerning and we believe the policy, were it to be implemented, would not conform to the UK’s international IP treaty obligations”.
On 27 July 2022, the NMA reported that the Publishers Content Forum had also written to Mr Kwarteng expressing concern, stating that it believes the Government’s decision will seriously undermine the UK’s IP framework, conflict with international law and provide international rightsholders and non-UK based research organisations with a competitive advantage.
The PCF warned that without the ability to licence and receive payment for the use of their data and content, some businesses will have no choice but to apply paywalls where access to content is currently free.
The NMA says that, although a relatively recent development, the UK’s publishing industry has worked to meet the needs of text and data mining researchers with a licensing market that allows for text and data mining. The industry is concerned to ensure that licensing is as accessible, straightforward and affordable as possible.
The NMA says that in a written question in the House of Lords, Lord Black of Brentwood, chairman of the NMA’s legal, policy and regulatory affairs committee, asked the Government what assessment it had made of the financial impact on the UK news media sector of the decision to expand the text and data mining copyright exception.
Responding on behalf of the government, the IP Minister, Lord Callanan, said that an impact assessment would be published alongside the legislation when laid. He added: “The proposed exception will be targeted to limit negative impacts, and the government welcomes further evidence from rights holders on how to best achieve this”.