An initiative to create a voluntary code of practice on copyright and Generative AI ("Gen AI") has failed to reach an agreement. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), who led the conversations that started mid-2023, has not been able to reach consensus within the working group in relation to the use of copyright protected works to train Gen AI models. The announcement is a disappointment to many including the creative industry, who were awaiting clarification on their position in protecting their works and retrieving compensation, and technology industry who were seeking clarity how future technologies can be developed.

The creative industry expressed their concern regarding the protection of copyright content in the era of generative AI. In particular, their concern addressed the large-scale use of works to train Gen AI models and the consequences this has on the ability of right holders to retain autonomy and control over copyright work. In contrast, developers of AI have emphasised access to a wide-range of datasets is needed to further develop and train AI systems, and they have sought legal clarity that they can do so.

The UKIPO had brought together stakeholders of the creative industry and AI technology companies in order to create a voluntary code of practice to provide more clarity and guidance on the use of and compensation for copyright content in AI. The UK Government shared in its statement that the initiative served as a valuable mechanism for parties to share their views. However, the parties involved have not been able to reach an agreement on an effective voluntary code of practice.

This news shows the difficult position of the UK government in allowing and encouraging further innovation of AI technologies and simultaneously trying to address key concerns associated with the rapid growth of AI, including the protection of copyright.

The UK Government has said that it will now lead further engagement with the right holders and AI sectors to find an effective approach to grow into partnership together. The UK Government has stressed that they seek an outcome that ensures that AI technologies provide support to the creative industry, rather than frustrate human creativity and innovation. Part of this work will involve to seek trust and transparency between the parties, and for rights holders to better understand whether the work they create is used for AI training purposes. The Government has promised to provide a more detailed proposal on this soon.

This announcement has come around the same time as the launch of a consultation series initiated by the UK Information Commissioners Office on how requirements under UK Data Protection Laws should apply to the development and use of Gen AI. Read more about this consultation on our blog.

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