India Plans New AI Legislation to Safeguard Copyrights: Ashwini Vaishnaw Leads Efforts

Indian government, led by Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, plans new AI law to safeguard copyrights, balancing innovation with creators' rights.

The Indian government, led by Electronics & Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, is taking decisive steps to address copyright concerns within the realm of artificial intelligence (AI). Vaishnaw recently disclosed the government's intention to enact a new AI law aimed at safeguarding the interests of news publishers and content creators while minimizing potential harm to users. Described as "very balanced" and robust in securing rights and sharing proceeds, the proposed legislation seeks to create a conducive environment for innovation, particularly in AI-enabled technologies like large language models (LLMs).

According to Vaishnaw, the new law could either manifest as an independent legislation or become part of the forthcoming Digital India Bill, slated to supersede the aging Information Technology Act of 2000. Emphasizing the need for a smooth transition, Vaishnaw highlights the imperative of respecting creativity in both intellectual property and financial realms. Consultations with industry stakeholders have indicated broad agreement on these foundational principles.

In light of global trends, where demands for protecting publishers' and creators' rights are intensifying, Vaishnaw advocates for a legislative approach to regulation over a self-regulatory body. This stance aligns with mounting lawsuits against tech giants like Microsoft, OpenAI, and others, accused of leveraging copyrighted content without proper compensation. Within India, news publishers have been vocal about the need for amendments to IT rules to ensure fair remuneration for content used by AI models. The Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) has proactively engaged with relevant ministries to seek protection against potential copyright violations by AI systems.

Jaspreet Bindra, an expert on emerging technologies, suggests that the way forward may involve a framework or legislation facilitating stakeholders' dialogue to establish fair compensation protocols. Echoing this sentiment, Vaishnaw underscores the necessity of balancing innovation with creators' and publishers' rights, envisioning an AI law that ensures equitable treatment and proceeds sharing among stakeholders, including creators, publishers, and AI companies developing LLMs and similar technologies.

The impending AI law, as outlined by Vaishnaw, prioritizes creativity, addressing both financial and intellectual property considerations. While specific details await finalization, the legislation is poised to integrate into the broader Digital India Act framework, poised to modernize the country's digital governance landscape. While acknowledging the potential for a self-regulatory body, Vaishnaw asserts that a legislative method is more apt, emphasizing the government's commitment to formal consultations post-elections to propel the legislation forward.

The context surrounding AI laws is underscored by ongoing legal battles between news publishers and AI companies, emblematic in cases like The New York Times' lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft. These litigations underscore the imperative for clear regulations governing AI usage and content ownership. Notable authors like John Grisham and Jodi Picoult have raised concerns about fair use, adding complexity to the debate.

In response, organizations like OpenAI have defended their practices, underscoring prior knowledge of copyrighted materials and dismissing lawsuits as lacking merit. Nonetheless, the debate surrounding AI development and content ownership persists, necessitating proactive measures like India's proposed AI law to navigate emerging challenges. By establishing clear guidelines for content usage and rights protection, India aims to foster a fair and transparent AI ecosystem that balances innovation with creators' and publishers' interests.