Government to make new ‘AI law’ to protect media and content creators: IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

In a major step towards protecting news publishers and content creators from copyright violations done by companies while training their artificial intelligence (AI) models, Electronics & Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the Indian govt is planning to formulate a new AI law. This development comes after the govt made it mandatory for companies to get a permit before rolling out their untested models, a decision that was highly talked about and ultimately revoked later on.

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AI law to protect news publishers and content creators

Speaking to the Economic Times, the minister said that while there would be “good space for innovation”, the AI law would be “strong on securing the rights and sharing the proceeds” between content creators, news publishers and companies developing AI technologies such as Large Language Models (LLMs). The minister said, “There is a transition happening. Our position is that the transition should not be disruptive because lakhs of livelihoods are involved. “

The law would be introduced with creativity in focus, both in terms of its financial and commercial implications, as well as intellectual property. While nothing is concrete, the new AI law could become part of the Digital India Act which was proposed last year with the aim of superseding 2000’s Information Technology Act.

The minister said, “One thought is to form a self-regulatory body. But we don’t think that would be enough. We think that this regulation should be done by legislative method. We have already consulted the industry. After elections, we will launch a formal consultation process and move towards legislation.”

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The battle between news publishers and AI companies

Although nothing is clear, the new AI law could be a welcome move amidst lawsuits filed by news publishers against AI companies. The New York Times became the first major publisher to sue both ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and Copilot-developer Microsoft, accusing them of infringing its copyrights over millions of articles that were used to train their respective AI chatbots. The Times also claimed that these AI models were diverting web traffic away from the same sources whose data they were trained on, which could potentially lead to greater financial implications.

OpenAI argued that the Times had knowledge of OpenAI training ChatGPT using its articles since 2020 and only cared about it once it exploded in popularity, something which happened in 2022. It further called the lawsuit “without merit”.

But it is not just big publishers that have been accusing AI companies of infringing copyrights while training their AI models and chatbots. Over the last few months, novelists such as John Grisham, Jodi Picoult and George R.R. Martin have sued OpenAI over “fair use” of copyrighted works. Still, the battle between news publishers and AI companies continues, and India’s proposed AI law could be a welcome move.

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