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October 6, 2021
RE: Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT)
To Whom It May Concern:
IBM appreciates the opportunity to submit comments in response to the Consultation on Modern Copyright Framework for AI and IoT. Overall, IBM is pleased with the governments’ continued engagement and collaboration with the public and private sectors to ensure that Canada’s copyright framework for AI and IoT reflects the evolving digital world.
IBM is a globally recognized leader in the field of information technology research, development, design, manufacturing, and related services. During IBM’s more than 100-year history, its employees have included five Nobel laureates, five National Medal of Science recipients, ten winners of the National Medal of Technology, and numerous National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees. Since 1920, IBM has been granted more than 140,000 Canadian and U.S. patents.
For more than a century, IBM Canada has invested in growth, progress and reinvention in Canada. In 2020 alone, IBM Canada spent $455M CAD on research and development. The IBM Canada Lab remains one of the largest software development organizations in the country. Through the years, IBM has invested across Canada – since 2009, the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies Alberta – a collaboration with the province, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta has driven academic-industry applied research. Currently IBM CAS Alberta has 44 active joint research projects across 23 universities involving 48 professors, 93 students and 105 IBM technical staff members. Nearly a decade ago we opened the IBM Client Innovation Centre in Nova Scotia to provide application management and consulting services to administer and transform IT systems for local government departments, businesses and universities, and collaborated with the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) of the University of Montreal to establish a new Artificial Intelligence Lab. More recently we announced a partnership with the Université de Sherbrooke to open an IBM Q Space at the Quantum Institute (IQ), the first of its kind in Canada, as well as renewed our SOSCIP partnership with the Government of Ontario, which connect Ontario’s research-intensive post- secondary institutions and SMEs to drive the uptake of AI and data science solutions to the benefit of the local economy.
It is from this committed and invested perspective that we believe IBM is uniquely suited to provide the Government of Canada with a contemporary view on developing a modern copyright framework that enhances the Canadian innovation ecosystem while maintaining overall copyright principles. Text and data mining (TDM) is a critical tool for use in AI and data analytics solutions -- TDM enables the analytics solutions to discover correlations and identify useful knowledge from information that rests undiscovered in data sets, large and small, in ways that can be processed and harnessed for a myriad of valuable purposes. The continued advancement of AI depends on such learning as AI is only as intelligent as the information from which it can learn.
Globally, in several jurisdictions, such as Japan, the European Union, Singapore, and the United States, researchers are permitted to carry out TDM for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. While digital transformation continues to occur in Canada, there is still uncertainty as to how the Copyright Act and existing exceptions to copyright infringement apply to TDM activity. As a result, organizations are more likely to engage in TDM and associated AI activities in other countries, which are perceived to be more AI-friendly.
Additionally, we urge consideration of use of data as it is exchanged on a cross-jurisdictional basis, a common function of global entities and global teams.
IBM advocates the explicit identification of TDM/information analysis for commercial and non-commercial purposes in the fair dealing exception of section 29 of the Copyright Act. The amendment of section 29 should explicitly include TDM, in particular copying entire texts internally for analysis and machine learning, as a fair dealing exception, provided that certain statutory requirements are met (e.g., the entire text is not published or otherwise “publicly” displayed but rather only snippets). We believe that such an amendment may most likely resolve the current uncertainty of how the Copyright Act and fair dealing exceptions apply to TDM activity in Canada, as well as to encourage more AI innovation in Canada.
With respect to authorship and ownership of works generated by AI, IBM supports the use and advancement of automation by AI systems. We also believe in a human-centric approach to AI, where AI is designed and developed in a responsible manner that is aligned with the human values and ethical principles of society or the community it affects. When AI is used to create a copyrightable work, the issue turns on which human actor(s) is the author of the work. The use of AI in creating the work should not disqualify the work from copyright protection as long as the contribution of the human author contains sufficient originality under the Copyright Act. While IBM maintains a keen interest in ongoing policy discussions, we caution against hasty legislative or policy changes in this area of the law that could result in unforeseen consequences with respect to such a rapidly developing technology.
In closing, Canada’s strength lies in its ability to innovate in ways that benefit everyone. IBM applauds the Government of Canada for leading the modernization of the copyright framework. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments, and we look forward to continuing the conversation this important initiative. For any questions, please contact Ms. Alayne Crawford in IBM Government & Regulatory Affairs.
Government & Regulatory Affairs Executive