Letter from the BFDG to Sarah Olney, MP expressing concerns about the effects of AI on the Creative Industries



Dear Sarah Olney

The British Film Designers Guild was formed over 75 years ago with the aim of raising the standards and profile of the Art department and protecting the interests of its members. Under the umbrella of this role, the British Film Designers Guild are challenging the Government’s plans to create an ‘all out exception’ to copyright laws for the purposes of training AI.

The BFDG recognises that Artificial intelligence (AI) is an exciting and highly disruptive technology that will doubtless have a transformative effect on the creative industries and society in general. However, we have grave concerns over the current lack of legal protection for individual creatives, whose labour and intellectual property are currently being harvested for financial gain without their consent to provide the raw power these new tools provide. AI image generators ingest vast amounts of copyright artwork and then commercialise the ability to make derivatives at lightning speed and at a fraction of the cost a human would need to earn a living wage, and are widely forecasted to displace a great number of creative jobs as they become ever more commonplace.

At a time when creatives urgently need protection, the Government’s plans would see the already scant copyright protection removed altogether. Whilst the goal to make the UK an ‘AI powerhouse’ is laudable, the UK creative industries, rightly admired as some of the best in the world, contribute over £100 billion to the economy each year and it is short-sighted in the extreme to ransack one to grow the other. We welcome your efforts in raising this issue in Parliament and today join our voice with the many other members organisations representing UK creatives that have called for these plans to be scrapped.

We believe generative AI is an exciting new technology that will doubtless form an important part of film-making in the future, but we also believe our members and creatives of all kinds have the right to consent to their work being commercially harvested against their will. We urge the Government to drop its plans and call for an urgent, nuanced update to copyright and data protection laws that allow the UK AI sector to flourish without harming other industries in the process.

Yours sincerely

Blair Barnette

BFDG Chairperson

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