The Government's response to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report on AI and the creative industries has been published. It contains a number of commitments which reflect the Government's aim to find a pragmatic balance between prioritising development of AI technologies and supporting the UK's creative industries.
In particular, the Government's response notes that "reproduction of copyright-protected works by AI will infringe copyright, unless permitted under licence or an exception". It formally confirms that it is not proceeding with its earlier proposal, from 2022, to implement a broad exception for text and data mining of copyright works, but reiterates its commitment to develop a code of practice to "enable the AI and creative sectors to grow in partnership". Whilst the code of practice is described as a collaborative effort, with working group members (drawn from AI firms, AI users, creators, performers and rights holders) "highly engaged" in the process of agreeing the content of the code, it is notable that the timeline for finalising the code has slipped from Summer 2023 as originally anticipated, to 'early 2024'. It is perhaps also notable that the Government does not indicate what might happen if a code of practice cannot be agreed.
The Government has also considered the Committee's recommendations regarding protecting performers in relation to issues such as 'deepfakes'. One step already in hand is the commitment to implementing and ratifying the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (the detail of which the UKIPO consulted on in the Autumn). The Treaty doesn't specifically deal with protections in light of deepfake technology but does give audiovisual performers moral rights for their live performances and performances in audio fixations (including the right to be identified as the performer, and to object to certain distortions, mutilations or other modification of their performance).
The Government notes that, whilst implementation of the Beijing Treaty will provide some protection for performers, it is not a complete answer and so has indicated that it will work with the relevant departments to explore whether stronger protections should be implemented, alongside industry initiatives.