Government launches consultation on copyright and AI legislation

The consultation is seeking evidence and views on the extent to which patents and copyright should protect inventions and creative works made by AI.

The government has today launched a consultation on how the copyright and patent system should deal with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI as a technology is already well-entrenched in everyday life. It is a powerful tool for scientists, entrepreneurs and artists alike, and allows for new inventions and creative work.

In a statement, the government says it wishes to be “at the forefront of this revolution”, and encourage the use of AI for the “public good”. However to do so, it says the central role of intellectual property (IP) must be preserved.

What the government is looking for

The consultation launched today is seeking evidence and views on two main topics. Firstly, it wishes to explore the extent to which patents and copyright should protect inventions and creative works made by AI.

Secondly, the government wants to understand what measures could make it easier to use copyright protected material in “AI development, supporting innovation and research”.

It is being led by the Intellectual Property Office, and will run for ten weeks ending on 7 January 2022. Responses can be submitted to the gov.uk website.

“Ensuring people are rewarded appropriately for their inventiveness”

Design Week has increasingly covered the work that designers are doing with AI, and the insight gathered from the consultation will undoubtedly affect the industry.

Already, designers are using AI for work around voice assistants, implementing new travel systems, healthcare and “resurrecting” long-deceased creatives.

“Thinking about the challenges AI poses to IP and ensuring people are rewarded appropriately for their inventiveness and creativity is vital for innovation to flourish,” says AI Council chair Tabitha Goldstaub.

“So we can all benefit from the brightest ideas”

This will not be the first time the government has explored the topic of AI and IP. A previous consultation was run in 2020.

According to a statement, this research “raised questions about the balance in the copyright system between the protection of human works and AI works”. For patents specifically, its says issues were identified “that could stifle innovation as the use of AI systems increases”.

This latest call for evidence is in reaction to the findings of the previous consultation. The government says: “We are now seeking evidence and views on a range of options for possible changes to patent and copyright law, which may address these issues.”

The ultimate aim, according to digital minister Chris Philp, will be to “cement the UK’s place as a global AI superpower”.

“Through this review we will make sure we can encourage investment in technology and innovation so we can all benefit from the brightest and best creative ideas of tomorrow,” he says.

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