Editorial Photographers UK – AI, Text & Data Mining and what it means for you

Reproduced with permission from the Association of Photographers (AOP)

Why should photographers and image makers be concerned about the proposed new exception for text and data mining?

  • So far, the UK’s copyright framework has been arguably one of the most innovation-friendly and successful pieces of legislation in the world protecting creators, with particular attention to the large and widespread creation and investment of creative works, leading to an industry worth over 6% to the UK economy.
  • Photographers have always embraced and used new technologies and innovation, quickly adapting from analog to digital to meet market demands, and nowadays using AI-assisted tools where necessary. This bill is different.
  • Currently, the Text and Data Mining (TDM) exception (to copyright protection) allows automatic analysis for non-commercial purposes of online content, provided there is lawful access (such as a subscription). It is also restricted to prevent resale or reuse for other purposes, and must be accompanied by attribution.
  • This proposed new exception for commercial text and data mining – by the UK government – undermines this by allowing all images posted online to be automatically extracted for any use by anyone, including developers. ‘IA. It would cover both works protected by copyright and those protected by UK Database Right.
  • With serious economic consequences for any creator, but especially for photographers with data-rich images, this proposal completely bypasses the licensing process allowing AI developers and others to have a free commercial access to content that, under normal circumstances, they would license and pay for.
  • From a practical point of view, this would mean that AI bots/crawlers would scan or read all digital images (just like many of the image violation identification services we already use), on your websites or accounts. of social media, and would extract whatever data the bots were programmed to search for (extracting both an image and embedded metadata from the original source and any versions found elsewhere) at neural speeds. The robots would make copies for the AI ​​platform to “learn” and, potentially, create new images.
  • Creators are doubly harmed because not only is a potential revenue stream removed, but the very platforms formed using their works can ultimately replace the work they are currently doing! Think e-Comm fashion on artificially generated models or makeup on AI-rendered faces, which is largely already the case.
  • On the horizon, there are already AI/Machine Learning programs that have openly copied millions of images to allow owners/users to create new ones without paying the copyright holders. This change in UK law would fundamentally reverse the roles of creators by giving way to economically harmful competition by allowing ‘free for all’ content and invoking a treacherous scenario between machine and human effort.

What happens next…

  • The next step for the UK government is to introduce a bill soon with an economic impact assessment.
  • We need to show evidence of the economic harm this could cause to AOP members and other professional photographers, to mitigate the risk to your businesses.
  • We will soon be posting a simple survey that all members can complete – please participate so we can protect your interests.

ISabelle Doran, CEO and Nick Dunmur, Commercial and Legal Manager, The AOP – August 2022


EPUK Note: Although primarily designed for AOP member responses, AOP welcomes any photographer who is concerned about the impact of this exception on their business.

Judging by the very rapid proliferation of AI images on social media as free illustrations credited only to the AI ​​platform, this cannibalization is intended to replace many photographs without compensation or attribution to the creator. original for the use of his copyrighted work. as raw material.

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