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UK to expand data mining freedoms for AI

Datamining

The UKIPO published the results of its consultation on AI and IP today, June 28, and plans to shake up the rules on copyright and data

The UK will expand its data mining exception to copyright following a review of its artificial intelligence policies, the UKIPO announced today, June 28.

The UKIPO confirmed the policy as it published the results of its consultation, which ran from October 2021 to January 2022, on intellectual property and AI.

As part of that review, the UKIPO had asked stakeholders whether the UK’s current patent and copyright laws were fit for dealing with IP issues in the AI sector.

One of the biggest issues up for debate in the UK and internationally was whether IP offices should grant patents which list AI applications as the inventor.

But the UKIPO has decided against any move in that direction and limited its most substantial policy changes to the field of copyright.

The biggest change in IP policy will be an expanded copyright exception for data mining, a process where software is used to analyse data, including for the purposes of training AI.

The government plans that anyone with lawful access to copyright-protected material will be able to carry out this analysis without further permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright owners will still be able to control access to their data, but won’t be able to charge interested parties extra for the purposes of mining.

Data mining of copyrighted material is already legal in the UK but only for non-commercial use, meaning that the current exception doesn’t apply for the training of many AI programs.

Matt Hervey, head of AI law at Gowling WLG in London, said the new UK policy compared favourably to EU rules, which allow data mining but subject to an opt-out by the copyright owner.

"The UK government is proposing a very pro-innovation position for text and data mining," Hervey said.

"The lack of an opt-out is more favourable to commercial AI innovation than the EU rules, and supports our world-class AI industry," he added.

Science and innovation minister George Freeman said the UK’s copyright framework would be one of the most AI-friendly in the world.

“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,” Freeman said.

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