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UK government bins UKIPO’s flagship AI reforms

Westminster, London

IP minister George Freeman said on Wednesday that plans for a broad text and data mining exception would not go ahead and that further consultation was needed

The UK government has dropped plans to allow artificial intelligence developers to use copyright-protected material for training purposes, it was confirmed on Wednesday, February 1.

George Freeman, minister responsible for intellectual property, told the House of Commons that the government will instead begin a deeper consultation with rights owners over the country’s text and data mining (TDM) laws.

His comments were published in Hansard, the official record of activity in parliament.

The UKIPO said at the time the proposals would help achieve the government's plan to make the UK an AI superpower.

The office first announced proposals last June for a commercial copyright exception that would establish the UK as one of the most friendly jurisdictions for TDM.

But the plans were met with fierce opposition from some rights owners who said they would undermine the creative industries.

Julia Lopez, a minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), suggested last November that her department would be unlikely to support the proposals.

“We have written around to make it clear to other ministers that the proposals were not correct," he told parliament on Wednesday.

“I hasten to say that they were published after I left government, and it was a period of some turmoil. One of the lessons from this is to try not to legislate in periods of political turmoil,” he added.

The UKIPO’s plans were originally published on June 28 2022 but Freeman in fact resigned on July 7.

Managing IP has asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in which Freeman serves, to clarify.

He added that the government had received a huge response which should have been picked up in the pre-consultation stage before the proposals were announced.

Freeman said the government would revisit the feedback it received on TDM and see if there were proposals that could command support from various stakeholders.

A UKIPO spokesperson said: "In a Westminster Hall debate, Minister George Freeman confirmed that following additional evidence of impact on the creative industries, ministers do not intend to move forward with the proposals on copyright and data mining announced last year.

"The Government’s approach to this issue is going through the usual decision making processes and an announcement will be made in due course."

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