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3 Potential Pathways of the Ownership Issues in AI-Generated Music

2023-04-19-- The copyright claims made by Universal Music Group (UMG) on a viral Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated song that had an uncanny resemblance to the sounds of Drake and The Weeknd marks another significant milestone in the intersection of the music business and artificial intelligence. As AI continues to revolutionize the music industry, it raises a host of complex questions surrounding ownership and intellectual property rights. Who should be credited and compensated when AI-generated music takes inspiration from human creators? In this article, we at T.D.T Entertainment & Media explore the implications of three different scenarios: record labels owning AI-generated music, artists owning AI-generated music, and AI users owning AI-generated music. We will also discuss the importance of resolving these issues to ensure fair treatment of all stakeholders in the creative process.

Record Labels and AI-Generated Music Ownership

Our first candidate has been a pillar of the music business community for nearly a century. #RecordLabels already own the vast majority of the revenue generated from the global music industry, so naturally, some feel as though giving them control over when AI can be used to imitate music stars makes sense. If they already own the distribution and copyrights of music’s biggest stars, why shouldn’t they own the rights of AI-generated music that uses these stars' likeness with so much accuracy? Label executives certainly feel they’re the ones who should have a say in this matter, as UMG said in an email to streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music that was first obtained by The Financial Times, “We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists''. We find it noteworthy that the record label was sure to highlight the importance of its rights before that of its artists in its statement.

Record labels having control and ownership over AI-generated music could be advantageous for music industry players. If they act in everyone’s best interest, they could ensure that AI is used ethically and responsibly and contribute to a more sustainable music industry, helping create new opportunities for both emerging and established artists.

However, record labels having a monopoly on the use of AI in music could also lead to a range of legal and ethical issues. For instance, a record label could potentially use AI to create a posthumous album of a mainstream artist without their consent. We’ve seen instances in the past in which record labels take different snippets of artists’ who’ve passed away, and organize the construction of a posthumous album consisting of dozens of features. This has raised controversy in music circles before, as record labels seem not to care much for the artists’ creative interests when constructing art in their name. If legislation was passed giving record labels the right to use AI to generate music that is indistinguishable from the sound of artists they have the rights over, this could create a scenario in which music creators have absolutely no say in the messages they’re sending out through their art. They wouldn’t have even had to record what is being said on the track. While such a creation could be done in a manner respectful to their legacy, we find it imperative to ask who gets to decide what is respectful if not the creator themself? We find it unlikely that record labels would act with the necessary decency and ethical responsibility to have unlimited oversight over this technology. A business model that thrives on streams and attention will likely not deliberately alter music content to minimize streams and attention in respect to an artist.

Artists and AI-Generated Music Ownership

This brings us to our second scenario - #artists owning AI-generated music. Granting artists ownership over AI-generated music can have several advantages. First and foremost, it empowers them to reap the rewards of their creative input while fostering innovation and experimentation. By using AI as a creative partner, artists can expand their artistic horizons and develop new styles and sounds that resonate with their audiences. This collaboration can also lead to the discovery of unique musical arrangements and the pushing of creative boundaries, further elevating the artist's work.

Moreover, if artists have ownership over AI-generated music, it may incentivize them to invest in AI technology and contribute to its development. Machine Learning could certainly be leveraged more if artists everywhere were the ones training AI not only on their finished products but also on their music-development processes. This could lead to more advanced AI systems that can better support the creative process and help artists achieve their artistic visions.

However, this scenario also presents some challenges. One of the main issues is determining the extent of an artist's contribution to an AI-generated piece and distinguishing it from the machine's input. This could be a complex and subjective process, potentially leading to disputes over ownership and copyright.

Another challenge is the potential for artists to become overly protective of their intellectual property rights. As they seek to safeguard their ownership of AI-generated music, artists may inadvertently discourage collaboration between human artists and AI systems. This could result in missed opportunities for innovation and creative synergy, ultimately hindering the growth of the music industry as a whole.

Lastly, the question of ownership becomes even more complicated when multiple artists are involved in the creation of AI-generated music. Allocating ownership shares and determining the contribution of each artist in these cases can be a daunting task, further complicating the issue of AI-generated music ownership.

AI Users and AI-Generated Music Ownership

In the case where #AI users own the AI-generated music, it could foster a more open and collaborative environment in the music industry. AI users, including producers, songwriters, and music enthusiasts, could freely experiment with AI-generated music, combining and transforming it into new works.

However, this scenario also has its drawbacks. It might lead to a devaluation of human creativity, as AI-generated music becomes more accessible and widespread. A similar problem occurred earlier this year when a group of artists filed a class action complaint against the companies behind a trio of AI-art generators.

Additionally, the potential for exploitation and misuse of AI-generated music increases. Users of AI could create artistic works that are uncanny to the work of legitimate artists, but include statements in these works that real-life artists fundamentally disagree with. What happens when someone creates an AI-generated rap diss record that creates real-life conflict? AI users could also potentially profit from the work of human artists without proper acknowledgment or compensation. This could be an especially prevalent issue for less mainstream artists who are on the rise with their own unique sound. If an AI-user trains a software to use such an artist's voice and style, and then creates a hit song with it, what ensures that the upcoming artist is fairly compensated?

The Importance of Resolving Ownership Issues

As AI-generated #music becomes increasingly prevalent, it is crucial that we address the ownership and intellectual property rights issues that accompany it. Protecting the rights of human artists, record labels, and AI users will ensure a fair and balanced music industry that fosters creativity, collaboration, and innovation.

To achieve this, we must engage in open and meaningful dialogues about the ethical and legal aspects of AI-generated music. We must also work together to develop guidelines and regulations that protect the interests of all stakeholders, while still allowing for the exploration and growth of AI technology within the music industry.

If you're passionate about the future of music and the impact of AI on the industry, join us at T.D.T as we delve into the pressing questions surrounding AI-generated music ownership and intellectual property rights. Follow our company page on LinkedIn and be part of the conversation as we navigate these complex issues, advocate for fair treatment of all stakeholders, and shape the future of music in the age of AI.


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