In a brief submitted on January 15, 2024, to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Canadian Heritage, the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE), representing over 360,000 creators and nearly 3,000 cultural businesses in the country, presented its recommendations in response to a consultation on copyright law in the age of generative artificial intelligence. The CDCE strongly believes that calls for amendments that, essentially, would weaken the Canadian Copyright Act by adding new exceptions or new rights to the detriment of Canadian rights holders must be resisted. Here are the main requests of the CDCE:

  • Works and productions protected by copyright must remain so: in Canada, it is currently prohibited to use these cultural objects without the consent of the rights holders. The CDCE requests that the Copyright Act not be amended to allow technological development companies to use protected works and productions to train generative AI systems for free (text and data mining). On the contrary, it is necessary to give the market time to develop licensing solutions.
  • Copyright must continue to protect human creation: products resulting from purely mechanical AI generation processes that do not involve original human expression are not “works” protected by copyright or any related rights and should not become so. The CDCE demands that the Copyright Act not be amended to provide new protections to generative AI. In addition, CDCE requests that performers’ performances remain fully protected under the Copyright Act, including when the content performed is AI-generated.
  • Transparency obligations must be imposed on companies responsible for developing generative AI systems: these companies must be transparent about the copyrighted works and productions they use to develop their systems; and the public must be informed when they are interacting with content generated by AI.

The CDCE welcomes the government’s willingness to conduct an analysis of the robustness of the Copyright Act in light of the recent and rapid developments of generative artificial intelligence, which is having a major impact on the entire Canadian cultural ecosystem. However, it insists: the challenges posed by this to the diversity of cultural expressions go beyond copyright, and the cultural sector must be a part of all major reflections on ethics, governance, and regulation of AI.

Furthermore, the CDCE reminds that beyond the issues related to artificial intelligence, the Canadian cultural sector, whether it be the book, music, or visual arts sector, has been asking the government for several years to act in order to fix the Copyright Act so that it stops unfairly depriving rightsholders of legitimate revenue. Please take note of these demands.

Read the report

    Generative AI: CDCE’s recommendations to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions

    Press release
    15 January 2024