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How Will AI Impact Music Copyright Infringement?

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Thousands of music copyright infringement claims are filed every single day – what role will Artificial Intelligence have in this realm?

If you’ve kept in touch with the legal side of music, you’ll be familiar with some of the famous copyright ‘battles’ we’ve seen in recent years. Consider the lawsuits filed from Marvin Gaye’s estate towards Ed Sheeran & Pharrell Williams respectively, Queen & David Bowie vs Vanilla Ice, or The Rolling Stones vs The Verve; lawsuits all filed under the premise that a song or elements thereof were copied without the original rights-holder’s permission. And on a micro-level in the licensing space, thousands of copyright claims are filed every single day by online platforms towards creators who have infringed copyright laws and used music without a license.

These legal battles are somewhat easier to navigate when there are humans representing the defense & prosecution. However, with the growth of AI-generated music being able to perfectly clone an artist’s voice, we will undoubtedly see future copyright disputes in which the offending party is somewhat… digital. So, what does this mean for music?

Where Does The Law Stand On AI-Generated Music Covers?

Currently, the laws around AI-generated music are vague and under early yet constant debate. Can AI-generated music be deemed an infringement? Who would be liable, the person operating the AI or the AI itself? If an AI has ‘learnt’ from copyrighted works in order to produce new ones, isn’t that copyright infringement in itself? These seemingly bizarre questions are totally valid in the AI discussion right now. The reality is that, as of right now, music copyright laws do not cast a legal net over AI-generated works, as these laws are based on human creativity. However, this is likely to change as the discussion grows more complex, and as more AI-generated music muddies the waters. From an ethical standpoint, though, it’s indisputable that AI-generated music is a violation of creative integrity and, for this reason alone, artists & labels should be on the hunt for such infringements.

As it pertains to music licensing, and the use of derivative AI-generated music in creative projects such as YouTube videos, the space is also still too early for concrete laws to be established. The consensus, however, is that laws will be implemented in order for artists to be fairly compensated for their creative output; the nature of these laws simply need to be established first. If a song with an AI-generated vocal of Bruno Mars is used in a video project, should Bruno Mars be compensated? What about a Bruno Mars instrumental with Drake’s voice; who should be compensated then? These questions all require deliberation before rights-holders can be fairly paid what they’re owed.

How Can We Detect AI-Generated Music Covers?

At this point, you may be asking “why do I need to worry about AI deep fakes?”, maybe even “isn’t AI good for music?”.

Well, the true value of music is embedded in human creativity, and while AI will undoubtedly streamline the creative process and catalyze a positive change, it also poses arguably the biggest threat to artistic integrity that we’ve ever seen. An industry in which we don’t need - or rely on - human involvement to make music, is a reality which we shouldn’t want to be a part of. And this is before you even consider more tangible threats such as job loss, significant economic change and lack of control over the industry.

Luckily, at MatchTune, we noticed this threat, and that’s why we launched CoverNet - the only tool in the industry which can detect AI-generated clones of an artist’s voice. CoverNet surpasses traditional ‘fingerprinting’ by meticulously scanning all music streaming & sharing platforms for more obscure uses of your copyright, including deep fakes but also unlicensed covers and more. CoverNet delivers detailed, real-time reports of every single use of your music, organizing results in an intuitive, customizable interface. The platform is the remedy for contemporary copyright infringement, and you can learn more about it here.

To Conclude

Ultimately, there is still a great degree of uncertainty around AI’s involvement in music. However, laws are soon to be established to compensate rights-holders, so it’s vital that artists & industry professionals are well-equipped to detect every single AI repurposing of their creative output. If identifying AI covers is something you'd like to implement within your legal arsenal, alongside detecting other unauthorized uses of your music, don't hesitate to reach out to our team at CoverNet. We'd be more than happy to dive deeper into how CoverNet can be your one-stop solution to copyright infringement protection.

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