Tuesday 14 May 2024

Exploring AI Copyright Policy in the UK

By Will Crook, Head of Policy and Communications, Publishers' Licensing Services – Platinum Sponsor of the University Press Redux Conference 2024.

On 24 July 2019, on his first day at 10 Downing Street, Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s Chief Advisor, was pictured wearing an Open AI t-shirt. Although perhaps overlooked at the time, Dominic Cummings’ wardrobe choice reflected the UK government’s belief that AI was going to be the solution to a lot of the UK’s economic problems, such as low growth and poor productivity. With the aim of establishing the UK as an ‘AI superpower’ and an international home to AI innovation, the government published its AI strategy in 2021 and outlined what it would do to facilitate AI innovation. One area it turned to was copyright.

Copyright has always been a target when new technology is adopted that challenges its basic principles, or when those developing that technology complain it limits innovation. The problems caused by the adoption and use of the photocopier led to the creation, by publishers, of Publishers’ Licensing Services (or as it was then, the Publishers Licensing Society) in 1981 as a voluntary solution to put pressure on copyright. More recently, the 2011 Hargreaves Review into IP and innovation led to the introduction of the current copyright exception for non-commercial text and data mining (TDM). As it has done before, with AI looked upon as a crucial technology for future growth, the government looked at the copyright framework and how it could be changed to help AI developers, who complained that licensing copyright protected content was expensive, inconvenient and prohibitive to growth.

In 2022, after consulting on a range of potential options, the government announced it was to introduce a new copyright exception for TDM for any purpose with no ability for a rightsholder to opt out. The new exception would have drastically widened the current exception for TDM and would have weakened the UK’s copyright framework meaning that rightsholders would have no ability to consent to the use of their works in generative AI training or receive any renumeration. The response from the creative industries to the government’s decision was unanimous, with strong opposition across the whole sector from publishers, authors, visual artists and musicians. At the time, a creative industry colleague dryly commented that the government’s decision had done something almost unprecedented and had united the whole sector in agreement around one issue. Thankfully, the government heard that opposition and relented, scrapping the intention to introduce a new copyright exception in February 2023.

With the criticism of its previous approach in mind, the government decided to continue to look at the relationship between copyright and AI in a more balanced way. Towards the summer of 2023 the Intellectual Property Office arranged a working group comprised of rightsholder representatives and AI developers to meet for a series of roundtables to discuss the drafting of a voluntary code of practice for the use of copyright protected works in AI. However, talks were difficult with the government showing little direction on copyright and preferring to be an ‘honest broker’, and with trust damaged amongst the participants after the failed exception proposal coupled with the refusal of some AI participants to acknowledge the need to obtain a licence. These elements with the increasing amount of litigation in the US and UK by rightsholders against AI developers meant that the talks ultimately proved fruitless and work to develop the code of practice was brought to a halt by government in early 2024.

With an abandoned new copyright exception and a collapsed code of practice process, where will the government turn next? 

In February 2024, the government announced that it would pursue a ministerial-led process and that details of further engagement were to be announced in due course, which so far has failed to materialise. Meanwhile, away from the executive, MPs and committees in both houses of parliament have been strongly supportive of rightsholders and copyright, and highly critical of the government. Baroness Stowell, Chair of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee recently wrote to the secretary of state complaining that the government’s lack of decisiveness and action to protect copyright had led to the deterioration of the framework and that time to act was running out before AI business models became ‘entrenched and normalised’. The government’s inaction is sharply reflected by progress being made in other jurisdictions on AI, such as the European Union that recently adopted its own AI Act that included provisions on transparency and adherence to copyright. Perhaps indicative of where the government find themselves on copyright and AI, in the House of Lords last week, the Minister for AI and IP, Viscount Camrose predicted that copyright would need to be modified through legislation to reach a solution but gave no details of what changes would be made. One thing, however, above all other matters, will likely intervene before anything is decided by the current administration: the next general election.

It is highly likely that the Labour Party will form the next government. Whilst it may be comforting to think that Labour may decide to take a stronger pro-creative industries copyright stance, the reality is that whoever the next IP minister is they will face the same scenario with some AI developers continuing to use content without permission and ignoring copyright. The new minister will be asked by officials to decide on a solution whilst under the same economic pressures of the current government. As focus turns to future policy, Labour has so far not given much away as to what it may choose to do. Labour’s recently published Creative Industries Sector Plan is positive about copyright but does not include detail as to how the UK’s framework would be protected or indeed strengthened in the face of pressure from AI developers. 

All the while, as the above has been playing out in Westminster, publishers have used the time to strike licensing deals with AI developers. What was a nascent market is now developing, as publishers better understand the needs of AI developers and how their content is being copied and used in large language models and generative AI. Where medium and small publishers may be commercially disadvantaged in negotiations, collective licensing solutions are also being developed that offer publishers control and the ability to earn for the use of their content. These welcome developments weaken the government’s view of copyright’s relationship with AI ingestion as difficult and complex. If anything, it shows that clear opportunities to license exist for publishers and that AI developers are willing to obtain them to use the valuable, curated content they need for their models. If AI is to continue to innovate and become a trusted everyday tool at home and work, the government would be wise to remember that it also needs an economically sustainable publishing industry to continue to provide high quality, curated content in appropriate formats to fuel that innovation, with copyright again crucially providing the balance needed for that partnership to blossom. 

About the author

Will Crook, Head of Policy and Communications, Publishers' Licensing Services Ltd.

Will joined PLS in December 2021 after working in Westminster for six years as a researcher for Andrew Bingham MP and for former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP. His main responsibilities are to engage with members of both houses in parliament on issues affecting copyright and licensing, to respond to relevant government consultations on behalf of PLS and ensure that PLS and mandating PLS publishers are updated on policy issues.

About Publishers’ Licensing Services

Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS) has provided rights and licensing services to the publishing industry since 1981. A non-profit, owned and directed by the four main UK publishing trade associations, our primary role is to maximise the value of published content, enable its legitimate re-use, and protect copyright through effective secondary licensing, permissions, and rights management services. In 2023-2024 PLS collected and distributed more than £43 million to over 4,500 publishers.

Friday 10 May 2024

Sustainability – The Challenges for the year ahead, and where to look for help

By Jonathan HuddartHead of Sales, CPI (UK) – Silver Sponsor of the University Press Redux Conference 2024.

Over the past two years Sustainability and the Environmental impact of the printed book or journal has been a topic of discussion that every publisher wants to engage with; but also, where businesses seem the least well informed and are searching for good and trusted sources of information. 

The subject area is vast, whether it is preparing your business for your Scope 1, 2 and 3 reporting, researching the upcoming legislation on Deforestation (EUDR) or responsibilities within the supply chain to reduce waste, carbon footprint and make active supplier decisions.

At CPI we have chosen to engage with the following accreditation bodies, The Bookchain Project, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Ecovardis, all of these organisations audit the supply chain on behalf of our customers and help to provide a standardised platform for our reporting. 

In addition, CPI has signed up to ClimateCalc, a measuring tool which will enable the whole group to provide accurate scope 1, 2 & 3 reporting for both our business needs and those of our customers. 

Reporting of this data remains the biggest challenge as we see it. CPI has over 500 active customers, each of which currently may have a different reporting requirement and request different information from us, depending on where they are on their Environment & Sustainability journey. During the last two years we have created dedicated roles in the business to support this requirement, which adds cost to the supply chain and new demands on the business. As we continue this critical journey, we will all need to work closely with each other to help mitigate and address these growing costs.

Moving into 2025, there are several legislative changes which impact print and production. Most noticeably the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). EUDR is legislation that has been designed to minimise consumption of products coming from supply chains associated with deforestation or forest degradation. EUDR entered into force on 29 June 2023. From 30 December 2024 EUDR is to be applied for all commodities entering into or leaving the EU market. It covers a number of product, Cocoa, Coffee, Palm Oil and Wood (where the paper comes in) to name a few. CPI has produced a guide for this to help educate our sector.

The EPR legislation is UK law, reporting has started for the annual year 2023. From June 2025, the costs for management of packaging waste will increase significantly as household collection costs are to be covered by this new legislation. EPR is a replacement for the existing Waste packaging scheme although they run alongside each other for 18 months.  Fines will apply to non-confirming companies, there have been criminal convictions for non-compliance in the last year of the Waste Packaging scheme as companies and regulatory bodies start to focus on compliance. 

For the last few years, I think that businesses have been encouraged to engage in the Sustainability discussion, as we move into 2025 everyone is going to need to ensure that their vendors are complying with their obligations and are truly focused on their legal and ethical responsibilities. This is no doubt a challenge for printer, publishers and distributors across the supply chain, but something that we need to work together to ensure we represent our sector in the best possible way and giving all our customers the information and comfort that they need that we are all working responsibly to the same goals. 

About CPI

CPI stands at the forefront of the UK's book printing industry, offering unparalleled expertise and a global print network to publishers and self-publishers alike. With over a decade of commitment to excellence, CPI provides tailored service models to meet diverse business needs, from Zero Inventory solutions to Global Print Solutions. Leveraging cutting-edge inkjet digital printing technology and integrated supply chain solutions, CPI UK produces a staggering 160 million books annually across seven specialised sites. 

About the author

Jonathan Huddart, Head of Sales, CPI, UK.

Jonathan has previously held several sales and customer roles across the business. As Head of Sales for CPI, he works closely with customers to ensure that they are making the best use of all the supply chain solutions that are available. 

More information:

Instagram: @cpi.group
X: @CPIGroup_
Linkedin: @CPI Books UK
TikTok: @cpibooksuk

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Harnessing Tech for Scholarly Impact: Five Ways Systems Empower Academic & Scholarly Publishers

By Mark Collins, Virtusales Publishing Solutions – Silver Sponsor of the University Press Redux Conference 2024.

At the London Book Fair this year, Virtusales Publishing Solutions hosted a panel at the Research & Scholarly Publishing Forum, exploring the evolving landscape of academic and scholarly publishing. The session offered a platform for sharing insights and strategies, shedding light on the latest trends and challenges shaping academic publishing today. Among the mission-critical themes discussed, technological advancement emerged as a key driver of transformation in the publishing industry. As Jim Ramage, Elsevier’s Senior Director, Software Engineering, commented during the panel, technology has the capacity to benefit stakeholders across the supply chain, including authors and readers: 

“All aspects of the publishing cycle — end-to-end — can be speeded up, enhanced, automated, and can take out costs. That benefits all stakeholders in the industry, absolutely everyone, and that's a positive thing.”  Jim Ramage, Senior Director, Software Engineering, Elsevier.

In this rapidly changing environment, more and more publishers are moving from incumbent suppliers and systems to advanced, publishing-specific software designed to drive efficiency and innovation; ultimately enabling them to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to industry demands as they emerge. But with so many systems ‘out there’, how can you tell the progressive apart from the disruptive? And what does progressive technology look like today?

Here are some pointers to consider:

1. Unification: Streamlining Workflows for Enhanced Efficiency

One of the primary advantages of advanced systems is their ability to unify workflows, providing a comprehensive solution for managing all types of products. By consolidating all their publishing processes into a single platform, publishers can streamline operations, increase visibility of data and assets, and make informed decisions across the publishing lifecycle. Unification not only enhances efficiency but fosters collaboration and innovation company wide.

2. Digital Asset Workflows: Facilitating Collaboration and Task Management

Advanced systems offer robust Digital Asset Management (DAM) capabilities, enabling publishers to effectively store, manage, transform, and share assets across departments. By combining and centralising data and assets within a single system, publishers can streamline processes, improve scheduling and task management, and ensure the secure storage and accessibility of vital resources. This integrated approach enhances productivity and accelerates the publishing process, driving better outcomes for publishers and business partners alike.

3. Full Integration: Maximising Sales Opportunities through Seamless Data Exchange

Seamless integration with various systems is another key feature of advanced publishing solutions. By facilitating the sharing, tracking, and reporting of critical information, advanced systems optimise data exchange to maximise sales opportunities. From product metadata to peer reviews and subsidiary rights, advanced systems enable publishers to share data seamlessly, and create tailored content (including AI sheets, ONIX feeds, reports and more) to meet third party requirements, strengthening relationships and ultimately driving revenue growth and market expansion. Flexible reports engines that can output a variety of industry standard formats and APIs also aid integration across your systems landscape, accelerating communication and saving time and resources.

4. Artificial Intelligence: Accelerating Operations and Enhancing Productivity

Advanced systems leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate operations and enhance productivity across the publishing lifecycle. From generating keywords to suggesting and editing copy text (from summarising descriptions to specific word counts and improving grammar, to facilitating translations, tagging images, and reworking copy for different markets and regions), AI acts as an assistive tool that can automate repetitive tasks, reduce manual effort, and unlock new possibilities for content dissemination. By adopting software that embraces responsible AI, publishers can ensure the security of their data and IP, save time and reduce costs, positioning themselves for success in a competitive market.

5. Continual Development: Future-Proofing Publishing Operations

Continual development is a hallmark of advanced systems, ensuring that publishers have access to the latest technology and tools. Some systems vendors offer inclusive upgrades as well as ongoing support, minimising disruption associated with the implementation of new technology, drastically reducing the need for training, and helping publishers to adapt to evolving industry trends seamlessly. This commitment to innovation empowers publishers to stay ahead of the curve, embrace the latest cutting-edge technology at the earliest opportunity, and future-proof their operations for long-term success.


Advanced systems play a pivotal role in empowering academic and scholarly publishing, enabling publishers to navigate industry challenges with confidence and agility, and embrace new opportunities as they emerge. By unifying workflows, centralising data and assets, ensuring full integration with internal systems, leveraging AI, and embracing continual development, publishers can transform their businesses, driving efficiency, innovation and growth in an ever-changing landscape.

About BiblioSuite

BiblioSuite is the system of choice among leading academic and scholarly publishers including Elsevier, Bloomsbury Academic, Mohr Siebeck and Sage Publishing, along with esteemed university presses such as Oxford, Harvard, Princeton, The MIT Press, and Edinburgh. If you're interested in learning more about how BiblioSuite can support your publishing endeavours, visit the Virtusales website

Read more about our LBF Research & Scholarly Forum panel plus customer success stories via the following the following links:

Innovating Responsibly: AI Prototypes in Publishing

Opportunities and Inconvenient Truths: Academic Insights from LBF’s Research & Scholarly Forum 2024 

Revolutionise your publishing experience with BiblioSuite for Scholarly and Academic Publishers 

The MIT Press consolidates six systems into BiblioSuite to optimise operational performance 

Ohio State selects BiblioSuite to unify its book and journal workflows 

Wilfrid Laurier University Press  selects BiblioSuite for enhanced funding management and reporting 

University of Illinois Press adopts BiblioSuite to unify its publishing workflows

Agent of Change: The Role of Technology in Publishing 

About the Author

Mark Collins, Director of Academic, Virtusales Publishing Solutions

Mark Collins has worked in the publishing industry for over 20 years with a number of global publishers, respected independents and academic and scholarly publishers implementing Virtusales' BiblioSuite publishing software. Prior to that, Mark worked at other publishers in a range of roles, including Wiley where he worked on implementing and delivering global technology solutions to the business.

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About University Press Redux 2024

The 5th ALPSP University Press Redux returns as an in-person event on 15 & 16 May 2024, in partnership with Edinburgh University Press. This is part of EUP’s 75th anniversary celebrations and will be held at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. Book your place.