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Self-publishing News: UK Publishers Call For Government To Protect Copyright At AI Summit

Self-publishing News: UK Publishers Call for Government to Protect Copyright at AI Summit

In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at the Publishers Association's Call for UK Government to Protect Copyright at AI Summit.

Dan Holloway head and shoulder colour photo - writer of this update on IngramSprk

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

Do have a listen to the new self-publishing news podcast. Howard and I have been talking about the way the legal cases that are being brought against Open AI, as well as the FTC investigation. We've also been considering whether Meta's new Threads social media platform will be a viable alternative to Twitter.

Publishers Call for UK Government to Protect Copyright at AI Summit

The first story this week comes with a little bit of context.

Tech vs Creators: the Data Mining Exception

You may remember last year, I reported on the UK government’s proposals on AI. One of those proposals was a copyright exemption for data mining materials in order to train AI. What that would have meant is exactly what that suggests. Big tech firms who want to train large language models on datasets of creative content could have done so without paying a license fee to the creators of that content. That proposal came out last summer. There was a consultation. ALLi was among the organizations which contributed to that consultation. The response from the creative industries was overwhelmingly critical of the data mining exemption. As a result, the government withdrew the proposal this February.

But the whole incident left a bitter taste and suspicious air. The UK government has repeatedly positioned itself as a champion of technology. And in the context of a growing AI industry, that’s not (seen as) a neutral position when it comes to the creative industries. 

Last week Members of Parliament issued a report into the government’s handling of those proposed changes to copyright law. And it doesn’t pull its punches. It suggests the government doesn’t understand the creative industries’ concerns and requirements. It also says that any attempt to go back and reintroduce an exemption “risks reducing arts and cultural production as mere ‘inputs’ in AI development.” 

As a reporter of a certain age, I find this dichotomy between the creative industries and technology fascinating to see emerging. Of course, computer technology and copyright have been at war for decades. But in the 1990s and early 00s I remember both the centring of the UK’s creative industries in government narrative, and a shared excitement in the US and UK around the future of, as it was then known, “the information superhighway.” 

Publishers Association's Letter to Government

Maybe that’s a place we can return to. The Publishers’ Association clearly thinks, or hopes, so. They have just issued an open letter to the UK government. In it, they seek the centring of the rights of creators at the AI Summit which the UK government will host in November. In particular, they want to ensure that whenever firms use creative content to train AI, copyright protection for the creators remains in place.

Kickstarter Announces New AI Policy

We stay with AI and creators for the next item. Last week, Kickstarter put its new policy on AI into practice. The platform for crowdfunding all manner of creative projects aims to introduce greater transparency around the projects it helps. It is not seeking to ban the use of AI in any of those projects. Instead, its policy rests on two pillars. First is the existence of some form of human creative input. And second is a requirement to declare the use of AI in any parts of the project. Kickstarter will capture this information and display it for backers in an additional project sheet. The requirement applies to all new projects from August 29th.

US Court Rules Mandatory Deposit Isn't Mandatory

Mandatory deposit (or legal deposit as we know it in the UK) is one of those topics that feels rather niche but affects us all. As you may know, my day job is at the University of Oxford, so legal deposit is something that I encounter every day. Because Oxford is home to the Bodleian Library, one of six legal deposit libraries in the UK. One of those, the British Library, should be sent a copy of everything that is published in the UK. The other five have a right to request a copy of everything published in the UK. 

Deposit libraries are a fantastic resource for readers. Perhaps even more important than that, they are an invaluable resource for researchers and historians and everyone in the present or future who might need to be able to verify or use what was published at any time. I can’t believe I am going to write the following sentence, but it conveys what I mean for a contemporary audience. A legal deposit library is like a physical version of the Wayback Machine. 

But for publishers, legal deposit can be a bit of a bind. And when I say publishers, I of course include self-publishers. Because the legal deposit requirement applies to us as much as to anyone else.

The US also has a legal deposit library, the Library of Congress. But last week, courts in the US ruled that the Copyright Office could not demand publishers deposit a copy of all books. Ruling on a case brought by Valancourt Books, a Washington DC federal appeals courts ruled that the Copyright Office's demand to deposit books or face a fine was unconstitutional. It amounted to government seizure of property. And it noted the deposit gave the publisher no benefits in respect of copyright protection. 

I should state the obvious. It is very unlikely the UK will follow this ruling. We do not have a constitution in this sense. But for US indies, this is an interesting development. On a final note, the legal deposit copy is, of course, different from the copyright registration copy, which does afford some benefits beyond the copyright protections that come into being when a work is created.

Publishers Call for UK Government to Protect Copyright at AI Summit, and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Share on X

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


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