Newspaper Association Calls for Copyright Law Revision; Protection of Rights Holders’ Work from AI Learning

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Nippon Press Center building, which houses the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, is seen in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, in October.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association called for an immediate revision of the Copyright Law at a government meeting Tuesday, saying the current law is problematic as it allows artificial intelligence to learn from newspaper articles and other copyrighted works without the permission of the rights holders.

The association made the assertion at the online meeting of a government study group on how to protect intellectual property rights from generative AI.

When the Copyright Law was revised in 2018, Article 30-4 was established to allow copyrighted works to be used for learning by AI without the permission of the rights holders. Even though the provision states that they should not be used in this way “if the action would unreasonably prejudice the interests of the copyright owner,” no specific examples have been provided over what constitutes “unreasonably” infringing the copyright holders’ interests.

At the meeting, the association presented several examples, such as a case in which generative AI created an incorrect answer based on a newspaper article and another case in which it created an answer based on an article that a pirated version of a newspaper site had plagiarized.

The association insisted that if the current situation is left unaddressed, the foundations of democracy could be shaken as misinformation would spread more, negatively impacting elections and other aspects of society.

“In principle, fees should be paid for using reported materials,” an association official said. “It is necessary to revise the Copyright Law and establish a system that enables copyright holders to deny AI learning of their works.”

Tuesday’s meeting was also attended by Microsoft Japan, with its official saying, “AI tools respect the copyright.”