Oct 13, 2023 2 min read

SACEM formally opts out of European data mining exception, so permission must be sought for AI training

French collecting society SACEM has confirmed that anyone training AI models with its members’ music must first get permission, as it has formally opted out of a data mining exception that is provided by European copyright law

SACEM formally opts out of European data mining exception, so permission must be sought for AI training

French song rights collecting society SACEM has issued a statement confirming that anyone training AI with its members’ music needs prior authorisation from the rights organisation, it having formally opted out of a data mining exception that exists in European law.

The society insists that it does not "intend to oppose the development of artificial intelligence" which "offers tremendous opportunities to music creators". However, it wants to "establish a sustainable and virtuous balance between the rights of the creators and publishers it represents and the ambitions of the players in the artificial intelligence field".

The music industry is adamant that any technology company training an AI model with existing music must first get permission from the relevant copyright owners. However, some AI companies have argued that some training processes are covered by copyright exceptions.

Within the European Union, the 2019 copyright directive introduced an exception for text and data mining that AI companies could seek to rely on. Article four of that directive says: "Member States shall provide for an exception or limitation [to copyright] for reproductions and extractions of lawfully accessible works and other subject matter for the purposes of text and data mining".

However, the same article also provides an opt out of the exception for copyright owners. It states: "The exception or limitation shall apply on condition that the use of works ... has not been expressly reserved by their rightholders in an appropriate manner, such as machine-readable means in the case of content made publicly available online".

So, just to be clear, SACEM has now expressly reserved the use of its works - the data mining exception and accompanying 'right to reserve' having been incorporated into French copyright law.

"By exercising this right to opt out", it says, "SACEM intends to restore the exclusive rights of creators by making data-mining operations subject to prior authorisation. Entities that use SACEM's works to feed their training databases and carry out data mining activities based on them will have to request prior authorisation from SACEM and expressly negotiate the conditions of use".

Adds SACEM CEO Cécile Rap-Veber: "Our aim is not to ban AI, or to slow down its development, but to make it more virtuous and transparent. Our members' creative works must not be used without their consent to enrich and train AI tools".

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