UCL Faculty of Laws


UCL IBIL co-hosts ‘AI and Copyright: What Next?’ with the UK Intellectual Property Office

12 July 2021

The online event debated the key areas of copyright law reform outlined in the UK IPO’s recent Response on artificial intelligence (AI) and intellectual property (IP).

AI and IP join the discussion 09.0.21 with Intellectual Property Office and UCL logos at the top

On 9 July 2021, the Institute of Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL) at UCL Laws co-hosted an online panel event, chaired by The Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Floyd, Honorary Professor at UCL Laws, in conjunction with the UK Intellectual Property Office. The event, organised by Honorary Lecturer Dr Daniela Simone, was held to discuss the findings and potential implications of the Office’s recent consultation on artificial intelligence (AI) and intellectual property (IP) (the Response) on UK copyright law. The level of interest in Response and its contents were evident from the large and wide-ranging international audience, with over 840 people registered for the event and attendees from 36 different jurisdictions.

The Response underlined the UK government’s aim to create an environment which places the UK ‘at the forefront of the AI and data revolution’. In respect of copyright and related rights, the UK IPO received numerous submissions from copyright owners, the creative and technology industries, licensing bodies, legal representatives, and academics. Two key areas emerged where there was no general consensus:

  • Whether copyright should protect works created by AI.
  • How best to regulate use of copyright works as training data for AI systems.

These provided the main themes for the panel discussion and audience questions.

After a brief welcome from IBIL director, Professor Sir Robin Jacob, Margaret Haig, UK IPO Head of Copyright Operations kicked off the discussions, by outlining the Report’s main findings. Alexandra Condon, Head of Public Affairs at PRS for Music then presented the copyright owner’s perspective favouring a licensing approach. Tobias Mckenney, European Copyright Counsel for Google focussed mainly on the user perspective, examining issues of copyright and AI governance, as well as some practical aspects including jurisdictional issues and remedies. Professor Dr Martin Senftleben from the University of Amsterdam shared the findings of his recent co-authored paper on the benefits of protecting AI-generated works under a sui generis right, rather than copyright, having lesser duration and scope, to ensure that such works were available for use as the basis for further human and AI-creations.

Screenshot of five panellists speaking at the AI and Copyright event

The presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session, touching on issues of an appropriate originality test, authorship, an appropriate scope for a text and data mining exception and how any licensing-based solution might be policed. Commenting shortly after the event, Dr Simone noted: ‘Today's event brought together different perspectives on the challenges that Artificial Intelligence might pose for copyright law. It is vitally important to foster robust debate and to consider all the angles when it comes to the thorny policy issues which arise in this context. IBIL is delighted to be a part of the ongoing discussions relating to potential law reform in the area of AI and IP.’

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