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On Wednesday 20th March, PICTFOR hosted their roundtable on AI and the creative industries in the House of Lords, which examined how artificial intelligence can be used as a tool for creativity without devaluing creator rights or product quality.   

The event was hosted by PICTFOR Co-chair Alex Sobel MP and featured insights from Sir Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Minister for Creative Industries and Digital, Paul Clements, Music Publishers Association CEO, Professor Mark Kennedy, Imperial College London Data Science Institute Lead, Stephen Turner, PlayStation Director, EMEA Public Policy, Sophie Jones, British Phonographic Industry Chief Strategy Officer, and Lara Carmona, Creative UK Director of Policy and Engagement.  

Alex Sobel MP provided opening remarks, discussing his work for the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee and noting that there is an ongoing conversation in parliament about using the right guardrails to protect artists and consumers. He highlighted the tension between those who believe artificial intelligence is supercharging the economy and those who fear that it may leave people behind.    

Alex then handed over to Sir Chris Bryant MP. Chris began by using “Happy Birthday” licencing issues to highlight how central copyright is to the creative industries. He argued that the concept of the author still matters to the UK both culturally and economically. Chris noted that the UK is in a particularly strong cultural position given the prevalence of the English language worldwide. Continuing, he argued that the right balance of AI use should be struck, and that there was still a particular place left for the human element.  

Chris stressed that tech companies are just as much a part of the creative industries as anyone else. They need to know that they can earn a living out of a product. He closed by suggesting that the UK is behind the curve on some AI issues. We would like to end up with a set of legislative proposals that knit closely with the EU and US, he argued.   

Kevin Brennan MP, the Chair of the Music APPG commented at this point, highlighting the APPG’s work on AI’s impact on music and suggesting that the UK needs to open up a space in the law to protect VINL (voice, image, name, likeness).   

The Chair then passed over to Creative UK’s Lara Carmona. Lara argued that the Treasury and policymakers still don’t understand the full value of intellectual property to the economy of the creative industries.  

She further argued that we need to reinforce the UK’s IP regime and copywrite regime, criticising large firms for taking people’s work and making profit. Lara continued that we need to think about the skills and people coming into the industry and enhance diversity, especially in the context of large language models. She also suggested that it is important to recognise that R&D innovation in the creative industries looks different from how shareholders think it looks. Lara argued that organisations of all sizes and shapes should get the capital to help them grow.  

Alex then handed over to Paul Clements from the Music Publishers Association. He noted that 50% of composers are using assistive AI tools, and that some were using AI to help the songwriting process. He also noted that generative AI models were scraping copyright material. Paul suggested that it is currently difficult to set up a meaningful dialogue with the organisations running the AI models.   

He argued that Lord Holmes’ private members bill on AI creation is welcome. On rights holders choice, many artists are happy for their music to be used, but it needs to be their choice. He argued that, ultimately, collaboration is better for the industry than the current oppositional state.  

Alex then handed over to Professor Mark Kennedy from Imperial College London. Professor Kennedy argued that the idea of protecting AI generated content from copyright will be hard to do. He suggested that, if creators are happy to stand behind their work, even if elements of it are AI generated, they should be allowed to.   

Professor Kennedy advocated for the concept of protecting the rights of generated content. He said that he wants to see a world where people train on their data and spread creativity. He also asked how we can ensure integrity and data. Looking at the data on how content is produced, he proposed, is the best way to protect artists.  

The Chair then passed over to PlayStation’s Stephen Turner. Stephen began by highlighting that PlayStation looks at AI as a key element of their games. The main question for him was: how do we leverage AI to help us build on enormous feats that come together to make a game?   

He noted the large amounts of uncertainty, asking how we could make the process more transparent. Stephen also noted how different legal frameworks internationally make following regulations more difficult.  

On generative AI, Stephen said the PlayStation is still cautious; they are experimenting with it rather than publishing materials. He also noted the difference between the video game sector and others in the creative industry, questioning how we could use a less rigid approach to regulation. He also noted that we need solutions that allow for more diversity.  

Alex then handed over to the British Phonographic Industry’s Sophie Jones, the final speaker. She argued that the music industry is getting more competitive every day and that we need to protect creators. She also argued that we need to protect consumers to get human connection through their music and industry bodies to remain strong. She addressed the disjointed discussion on where the UK sits in the hierarchy. We are strong, she argued, but we are ignoring IP, which is the lifeblood of what’s going on in the sector.  

At the moment, Sophie said, content is being hoovered everywhere and being used for commercial content. To add value, she suggested, you need to know what that data was trained on and what it was used for. She said that there was a wilful decision from some to ignore copyright. Sophie argued that, while the law is clear, more needs to be done to enforce rules. She noted that litigation was insufficient to protect the long tail of SMEs in the music industry.  

Alex then opened up the Q&A, which covered open-source data, legislative timelines, whether AI itself can be creative, how one could put IP protection on content created by AI, and how creators can remain afloat.  

We then thanked the speakers and concluded the session. PICTFOR would like to thank our speakers and our host, Alex Sobel MP.   

If you would like further information on this topic or about PICTFOR’s programme of events, please get in touch!

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