Call for input on copyright law for AI and Internet of Things closing soon

Federal government wants to modernize copyright framework, to keep up with advances in AI and IoT

Call for input on copyright law for AI and Internet of Things closing soon
François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Creators, innovators, consumers and investors of digital technology have until September 17, 2021 to submit their comments, perspectives and technical evidence on a modern copyright framework for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).

The Copyright Modernization Act was assented to nearly 10 years ago. To ensure that copyright policies can adequately adapt to the rapid advancements in the fields of AI and IoT, the federal government launched a public consultation July 16. Stakeholders are encouraged to share their input until the deadline. The responses received will help inform the government’s copyright policy development process.

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) recommended, in its 2019 report, that the government should consider copyright policy measures addressing challenges with both AI and IoT.

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry said, “The Copyright Act impacts many sectors of our economy. This consultation will allow us to hear the diverse perspectives of Canadians who want to make sure Canada’s copyright framework supports innovation, investment and competition as digital technologies continue to play a bigger role in generating growth and creating jobs.”

Pursuant to its call for consultation, the government also released a consultation paper which outlines the challenges to the current copyright framework posed by the developments in AI and the expansion of IoT and software-enabled devices.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

While the Copyright Act can protect the software code inside an AI system, the government highlighted three key areas where copyright measures are lacking.

First, the use of Text and Data Mining (TDM) to develop AI applications raises the question of whether the exceptions provided under the current copyright framework suit the needs of TDM. TDM involves analyzing large amounts of data, including copyrighted works. This activity may result in problems obtaining necessary authorisations from various rights holders. Under the act, TDM activity may be exempted from copyright infringement under the fair dealing exception for research or the exception for temporary reproductions for technological processes. However, the issue remains whether these exceptions are well suited to the complex nature of TDM activity.

Second, the capabilities of AI to generate works which were previously only attributable to humans raise questions regarding the authorship and ownership of AI-generated and AI-assisted works.

Third, uncertainties exist regarding the degree of human involvement required in an AI-assisted or AI-generated work to attribute personal liability for copyright infringement

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is the network of Internet-connected devices, excluding computers, smartphones and tablets. The rapid increase in devices connected to the Internet raises questions about the act’s provisions regarding technological protection measures (TPMs), also known as digital locks.

TPMs protect any copyrighted work by controlling access to copyrighted content. The act prohibits any activity, service or technology which circumvents TPMs. The current copyright framework is too restrictive that it hinders the repair of products protected by TPMs and impedes the ability of industries to develop interoperable third-party products.

As the government seeks measures to adapt to continuously evolving technologies, it is guided by the objectives of supporting innovation and investment in digital technologies, preserving incentive to create and invest and supporting competition and marketplace needs.

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