British MPs call on government to scrap AI exemptions that hurt artists

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British MPs call on government to scrap AI exemptions that hurt artists
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A British parliamentary committee is pressuring the government to axe plans that would allow artificial intelligence developers to freely train their systems on existing works of music, literature and art. 

In an Aug. 30 report, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee warned the government’s original plan to exempt text and data mining by AI from copyright protections “risks reducing arts and cultural production to mere ‘inputs’ in AI development,” and shows a “clear lack of understanding” for the needs of the United Kingdom’s creators.

The report claimed the U.K. government — currently led by the pro-AI Prime Minister Rishi Sunak — must work to “regain the trust” of creative industries following its “abortive attempt” to introduce exemptions for AI developers.

The Committee — a bipartisan group of 11 British members of parliament — urged Sunak to improve protections for artists so their likeness may be protected amid the rapid growth of generative AI.

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Committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage said in an accompanying press release that “the chorus of warnings from musicians, authors and artists about the real and lasting harm [and] failure to protect intellectual property in a world where the influence of AI is growing should be enough for Ministers to sit up and take notice.”

In its report, the Committee concluded all branches of government “need to better understand the impact of AI, and technology more broadly, on the creative industries and be able to defend their interests consistently.”

Related: Consumer surveys show a growing distrust of AI and firms that use it

Seemingly, the Committee isn’t alone on this issue. Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, the CEO of UK Music — Britain’s largest commercial music advocacy group — described the government’s current approach as a “green light to music laundering,” in July last year.

In Feb. 2023, music label Universal Music also warned that allowing AI free access to existing works of music and art would cause “widespread and lasting harm” and undermine the rights of creators.

On Aug. 20, the U.K. government outlined its plan to spend $130 million on thousands of new computer chips, to build out its “AI Research Resource” by mid-2024. The move forms a part of Sunak’s broader plan to turn the country into a world-leading AI tech hub.

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