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Detail of outcome
The Government sought evidence and views on a range of options on how AI should be dealt with in the patent and copyright systems. This response sets out the conclusions of that process.
We considered three specific areas:
Copyright protection for computer-generated works (CGWs) without a human author.
Licensing or exceptions to copyright for text and data mining (TDM), which is often significant in AI use and development.
Patent protection for AI-devised inventions.
For computer-generated works, we plan no changes to the law. There is no evidence at present that protection for CGWs is harmful, and the use of AI is still in its early stages. As such, a proper evaluation of the options is not possible, and any changes could have unintended consequences. We will keep the law under review and could amend, replace or remove protection in future if the evidence supports it.
For text and data mining, we plan to introduce a new copyright and database exception which allows TDM for any purpose. Rights holders will still have safeguards to protect their content, including a requirement for lawful access.
For AI-devised inventions we plan no change to UK patent law now. Most respondents felt that AI is not yet advanced enough to invent without human intervention. But we will keep this area of law under review to ensure that the UK patent system supports AI innovation and the use of AI in the UK. We will seek to advance AI inventorship discussions internationally to support UK economic interests.
Detail of feedback received
88 written submissions were received from sectors including the creative industries, tech industry, pharmaceuticals, the third sector, academia, and legal and IP professions.
This consultation looks at the intellectual property (IP) rights of patents and copyright, which reward and protect inventions and creative works. Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing an increasing role in both technical innovation and artistic creativity. Patents and copyright must provide the right incentives to AI development and innovation, while continuing to promote human creativity and innovation.
AI can support innovation and creativity in a range of ways. It can be a tool for scientists, entrepreneurs and artists, enabling new human inventions and creations. Some believe that AI will soon be inventing and creating things in ways that make it impossible to identify the human intellectual input in the final invention or work. Some feel this is happening now.
If or when inventive and creative AI exist, the IP system must be appropriate to secure benefits to society - the human benefits of this innovation. Meanwhile, we must ensure that patents and copyright also work where AI is supportive of invention and creativity but not its sole author or inventor.
In response to the Call for Views on AI and IP, questions were raised about the balance in the copyright system between the protection of human works and AI works. Some felt that copyright might present barriers in the development of AI itself. For example, using works subject to copyright when training AI and in innovation and research. For patents, issues were identified that may act as a barrier to innovation as the use of AI systems increases.
We are now seeking to understand the issues in more detail and are consulting on three specific areas:
1. Copyright protection for computer-generated works without a human author. These are currently protected in the UK for 50 years. But should they be protected at all and if so, how should they be protected?
2. Licensing or exceptions to copyright for text and data mining, which is often significant in AI use and development.
3. Patent protection for AI-devised inventions. Should we protect them, and if so, how should they be protected?