Generative AI needs an ethical reboot according to CLA


New research from Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) reveals that creatives including authors, photographers and visual artists are conflicted about whether generative artificial intelligence (AI) is a good thing for their livelihoods and the wider UK creative economy.

Commenting on the research, Mat Pfleger, Chief Executive at CLA said, “Our research revealed a general belief that generative AI will help advance the creative industries​, but there are also major concerns. Chief among these is that generative AI is not ethical in how it is currently working. 67% of the people we interviewed are aware that generative AI is using work without permission or payment.”

When CLA asked creators and rights holders if they were aware of their own work being used as part of an artificial intelligence database without their consent, 100% of the publishers said they were. When that question was put into context of the wider groups of respondents, the figure remained high at 76%.

This clearly demonstrates that the owners and operators of generative AI are currently not compensating copyright holders fairly or even at all. The question was then whether respondents believed this to be a threat to their own livelihoods and to the wider creative sector’s ability to continue to contribute significantly to the UK economy.

79% of respondents believe that the UK’s ability to earn from its creativity will be impacted by AI. Only 6% of those polled aren’t at all worried by this and see only an upside.

Stop and think?

Alongside worries about loss of income, there are also concerns about integrity. Almost half of respondents think that people will try to pass off generative AI as their own work across the board. 70% of publishers are also concerned that generative AI will become too much of a crutch and people won’t think for themselves.

Given these concerns, CLA asked whether the development of artificial intelligence should be stopped to protect the creative sector?​ 53% ​said that generative AI should be ‘paused’ to enable the sector to ‘catch-up’ on regulation. 25%​ said they thought it should be stopped altogether.

Trust the system

Despite the preference for a pause, there is confidence that the creative industries in the UK will eventually be compensated fairly for their works being used by artificial intelligence. 77% of respondents are confident and 27% very confident that AI will deliver fair compensation.

Commenting on the next steps around fair compensation, Mat Pfleger, continued, “We found less support for general regulation and more interest in specific tools and licensing rather than depending solely on guidelines. We are on a mission to ensure that 'copy, right' practices are effectively integrated into generative AI usage. In August, we developed principles for safe, ethical, and legal generative AI development. Now, we're exploring tools to ensure fair compensation for data mining used in AI platforms." 

All of the survey respondents felt pretty confident that they are across the implications of generative AI on the creative industries​; 84% said they have knowingly used it at work at least one or more times. Most companies are still assessing and gathering information rather than introducing new ways of working ​in response to generative AI. Expected benefits include productivity gains and efficiencies from advanced tools and technology. 80% of companies are open to collaborating with generative AI tools or platforms if they think there's a benefit to them.

Mat Pfleger, concluded, "We have called the research Friend or Foe to underline that we are at a crossroads where we can still influence the direction of travel with the right interventions based on legal copyright principles. I'm going to paraphrase our Co-Chair's contribution to the report which reflects the spirit of what we are trying to achieve when he says that technology and generative AI is not the enemy of creativity, but a powerful amplifier of human potential so long as we prioritise transparency, human rights and the preservation of creative endeavours.”

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