The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) was quick to praise the passage of new legislation by the European Union that, among its provisions, requires "general purpose AI companies" to respect copyright law and have policies in place to this effect.

FEP officials called the EU Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act, which passed on February 2, the "world’s first concrete regulation of AI," and said that the legislation seeks to "ensure the ethical and human-centric development of this technology and prevent abusive or illegal practices law, which also demands transparency about what data is being used in training the models."

"This transparency obligation is essential to allow publishers to enforce their rights and ensure that their works have not been used illegally for the training of an AI," wrote the FEP in a press release supporting the passing of the legislation. "It will complement existing copyright obligations that notably allow rights holders to opt-out their works from Text-and-Data mining uses and support the development of a licensing eco-system."

More than 200 organizations in Europe's creative and cultural sectors had lobbied in support of the legislation, arguing that the rapid development of AI has been enabled by the illegal use of copyright-protected works to train the models, and was conducted without any disclosure—or remuneration—to those whose protected work was used. "The deployment of generative AI has already destabilized the market, flooding it with AI content and often without informing consumers of the origin of the content," the FEP wrote.

“In a context where, both in the EU and internationally, the abuses of AI are more and more documented and contested, the EU has once again the opportunity to set a world standard in digital regulation, and allow AI to unleash its potential without infringing the rights of others," Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the FEP, said.

The hope is that, in passing this "light touch" legislation, the EU will be able to "protect creators and rights holders, foster partnerships, and drive innovation," the FEP said. "It emphasizes that implementing these obligations is not only ethically sound, but positions the EU as a global leader in AI regulation, promoting value creation and innovation within the region."