The UK government is set to introduce new provisions in copyright law to permit data mining and analysis of datasets for commercial use. This will have an effect on all parties who license or permit third parties to access their data.
Where a third party has lawful access to a dataset, they will be permitted under the new law to run computational analysis (eg training AI networks) on that data. The government has indicated that data owners will not be allowed to restrict this right or charge additional license fees for it – as many data owners do currently. The implications for those who currently charge (and pay for) such rights will be significant.
Text and data mining (TDM) means using computational techniques to analyze large amounts of information to identify patterns, trends and other useful information. TDM is used for training AI systems, amongst other uses. It also has uses in research, journalism, marketing and business analytics, and is used by cultural heritage organizations.
Some rights holders currently license their works to allow TDM, but others do not. This has financial costs for people using data mining software. To reduce these costs for researchers, an exception to copyright for TDM was introduced in 2014, but is limited to non-commercial research (following EU rules that were in place at its creation).
Several other countries have introduced copyright exceptions for TDM, intended to encourage AI development and other services to locate there. Territories with exceptions include the EU, Japan and Singapore. TDM may also be fair use under US law, depending on the facts.
The government has therefore decided to introduce a new copyright and database right exception which permits TDM for any purpose (including commercial TDM). Precise details of the enabling legislation are awaited.
The government has said that introducing an exception which also extends to commercial TDM will bring benefits to a wide range of stakeholders in the UK. These include researchers, AI developers, small businesses, cultural heritage institutions, journalists, and engaged citizens. Research outcomes could also benefit the wider public (for example, by supporting research and innovation in public health). Some in the creative industries also use TDM and AI to understand their market or create new works – they may also see benefits. From a TDM user’s perspective, the benefits include reducing the time needed to obtain permission from multiple rights holders and no additional license fee to pay. This should speed up the TDM process and development of AI.
Rights holders will no longer be able to charge additional fees for UK licenses for TDM and will not be able to contract or opt out of the exception. The new provision may therefore affect those who have built partial business models around data licensing. However, the government says rights holders will still have safeguards to protect their content. The main safeguard will be the requirement for lawful access. That is, rights holders can choose the platform where they make their works available, including charging for access via subscription or single charge. They will also be able to take measures to ensure the integrity and security of their systems.
Dentons acknowledges and thanks associate David Wagget for his contribution to the article.