Google questioned Australia’s copyright laws in an open letter to the government last month, asking it to relax the law so it doesn’t restrict the use of artificial intelligence. The company asked if the Australian government has considered if its copyright legislation has “the necessary flexibilities” to support AI development. It requested the government include a fair dealing exception that would also allow for Text and Data Mining (TDM).
The response comes as Australia proposes a review of its existing copyright law to determine if it still remains “effective and proportionate” while AI technology continues to grow. “Copyright infringement may harm Australia’s creative ecosystem and broader economy by reducing or diverting income that creators of, and investors in, original material rely on for their financial sustainability,” the copyright review concluded.
The government is taking into account the responses from members of the public and businesses to understand the priorities and challenges of copyright enforcement, including whether the current copyright laws are still relevant. Google responded alongside more than 70 other individuals, organizations, and companies including the Communications Alliance which represents Meta, Twitter, and Amazon Web Services.
Similar to Google’s request, the Communications Alliance also asked the Australian government that aside from copyright infringement, it should create fair use laws for “innovative technological uses” encompassing artificial intelligence and TDM.
Google did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
As AI technology advances on search engines to generate text and pull data from other sites, Google said in its letter that Australia needs to consider if it wants to benefit from the technology and “support the development of AI.” If the Australian government moves to weaken existing copyright protections, Google says it would “position Australia as a digital powerhouse and a leader in this field opening up a new stream of technology-related investments.”
Artificial intelligence isn’t going away any time soon, Google said, and without appropriate copyright flexibility, the technology will continue to flourish in other countries, leaving Australia behind to “only ever being an importer of certain kinds of technologies.” Nice country you’ve got there. Would be a shame if something happened to it.
Google’s letter comes as the controversy surrounding AI development in the music industry and art world has grown and artists try to protect themselves and their content from being reproduced or replicated without their consent.
The Australian government has not released additional information about when a decision on its copyright review will be made and in the interim continues to ask for feedback on copyright and enforcement issues.