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AI: Rise Of The Robots – AI Versus Copyright

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

AI technology has become more popular, and is a hot topic due to the effects on society and businesses. With this comes potential problems and legal challenges.

Gemma White of our Commercial Litigation Team takes a look at the rise of AI and the (potential) legal ramifications of its use.

It’s generally accepted that current AI ‘scrapes’ the internet for content i.e. in layman’s terms, it doesn’t actually create new, original content but harvests other people’s work/s and then regurgitates it albeit in a form that may or may not be substantially different to the original content.

As a result, the Government has been working with a group of representatives from the technology, creative and research sectors to come up with a code of practice on copyright and AI.

The aim of this code of practice is to make it easier for AI firms to develop the current technology but also ensure that there are protections in place for rights holders. If a code of practice cannot be agreed, then the Government will consider legislation in this area.

The current position is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 which has a limited exception to copyright infringement. The Act allows text and data mining of copyrighted works for non-commercial use, as long as the user has access to the copyrighted material. Last year the Government was considering expanding this for all purposes. Since then, it has been decided that a voluntary code of practice would be a better way to move this forward and make sure that AI can still develop but that rights holders are still protected.

More recently, the Government has published ‘ The Governance of Artificial Intelligence Interim Report’ (The governance of artificial intelligence: interim report – Science, Innovation and Technology Committee ( this covers more than just copyright and intellectual property rights but does say that policy must be created that establishes the rights of the original owner/creators of content and that these rights must be enforced. There are concerns about the ‘scraping’ of content, that is copyrighted, without permission.

Getty v StabilityAI is a case that started earlier this year, where Getty is suing StabilityAI for their use of Getty’s photos that are protected by copyright (Getty is one of the largest providers of stock photography, generally known as an image or stock library, with its photos, illustrations and videos being used by businesses of all sizes on a subscription basis)

This an important issue for businesses – employees, for example, may use AI in the creation of content for websites, articles and blogs, or even for creating images and illustrations and that can have ramifications for the employer. This case may assist us in knowing how the courts are perceiving the law in this area and may also speed up the time frame for the Government to create policy, codes or legislation to deal with this issue, before the courts are bombarded with cases of right holders suing AI companies for using their content without permission.

Gemma White


Gemma White


Gemma is a Solicitor in the Private Client team at our Northampton office. She assists the team on a variety of matters including Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Estates.