Tuesday, September 27
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New AI data law could have ‘serious consequences’ for photographers

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The Association of Photographers (AOP) has sounded the alarm over the text and data mining copyright exception that the UK government plans to introduce.

The proposed law change would allow machine learning programs, which power artificially intelligent (AI) text-to-image generators, to forfeit licensing of copyrighted images.

Currently, UK law allows automatic non-commercial analysis of online content provided it is not resold for other purposes and the sources are acknowledged.

However, AOP warns of serious consequences for photographers, especially those with data-rich images.

“On a practical level, this would mean that AI bots/crawlers would scan or read any digital images on your websites or social media accounts, and extract any data that the bots were programmed to search for (by extracting both an image and embedded metadata of the original source and all versions found elsewhere) at neural speeds,” AOP writes.

“The bots would make copies for the AI ​​platform to ‘learn’ and, potentially, create new images.”

AOP says that by allowing all images online to be freely automatically extracted for use by anyone, it could infringe worked copyright with “serious consequences for any creator”.

“This proposal completely bypasses the licensing process allowing AI developers and others free access to content that under normal circumstances they would have to license and pay for,” adds the organization.

Existential warning to photographers

“Creators are doubly harmed because not only is a potential revenue stream removed, but the very platforms formed using their works may ultimately replace the work they currently do,” AOP adds.

“Think of e-Comm fashion on artificially generated models or makeup on AI-rendered faces, much of which is already in progress.”

AOP claims that AI machine learning programs can create new images based on a photographer’s work without compensation to 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 an unfair scenario between machine effort and human effort. “

strange new world

AI-powered image generators like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion were trained on millions of images pulled from the internet.

The source of these images remains unclear, but with an abundance of copyrighted photos publicly available on the internet, they were likely included to power the AI.

As is often the case, the law simply hasn’t caught up with technology, and the UK is trying to get ahead of AI regulation as the country tries to benefit from Brexit.

The full AOP analysis can be read here.


Picture credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.