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The Rise of Unlicensed Covers & AI-Generated Deepfakes

Technological innovations have constantly influenced the music industry, but the digital era has ushered in particularly radical changes, with arguably the most notable examples being unlicensed covers and AI-generated deepfakes. And while offering some advantages for creators to express themselves, these forms of creative output also present serious challenges in the way that they reshape music making, sharing, and protection.


A musician playing guitar

So, what impact do these forms of copyright infringement have on the music industry? In this article, we explore the infringements created by unlicensed covers & AI-generated deepfakes, dissecting their implications for artists and the ever-evolving music industry.


Music Covers - Amplification & Transformation

Cover songs possess a remarkable ability to propel a musical work, and thus open it up to an entirely new & wider audience. When an emerging artist or popular influencer shares a cover on platforms such as YouTube or TikTok, it often leads to a significant increase in engagement for the original version. 


A perfect example of this phenomenon is the cover by the Canadian band Walk off the Earth of "Somebody That I Used to Know". Their creative interpretation, playing the song on a single guitar with all five members simultaneously, generated millions of views on YouTube within days.


Unlicensed Covers: A Challenge For The Industry

It is undeniable that covers can be a source of inspiration – encouraging experimentation with new styles or arrangements and fostering artistic development. Despite their advantages in terms of exposure and creative reinvention, however, unlicensed song covers pose several significant challenges to artists, particularly regarding copyright and artistic control.


Current legislation often requires users to obtain permissions or “licenses” to legally use or cover the music. However, violations are still incredibly common, especially on social media platforms where users frequently share content without proper permissions. This can lead to revenue losses for original artists, especially when streaming platforms or videos go viral without the appropriate rights being respected.


Added to these legal complications is the issue of artistic control. Because a cover can significantly alter the intent, style, or even genre of a song, it has the potential to affect how the public perceives not only the song but also its original creator. In some cases, this can damage the artist's reputation – particularly if the cover is perceived negatively or is associated with controversial ideologies or messages.


The Impact Of AI-Generated Deepfake Music

With the advent of artificial intelligence and its use in the artistic field, a new challenge emerges: deepfakes. In this context, AI is used to generate sounds or vocal imitations that strikingly mimic the voices of famous artists. Although this technology is fascinating from a technical perspective, it poses major risks in terms of ethics and reputation. Imagine, for example, a song where an artist's voice is recreated with such fidelity that it seems authentic, when in reality, it is entirely generated by an algorithm.


Legally, deepfakes occupy a gray area. As things currently stand, laws have not evolved swiftly enough to effectively address the challenges posed by deepfake technology, but progress is gradually being made, with certain regions in the United States beginning to introduce laws regarding voice protection. Notably, the Elvis law, approved on March 21, 2024, by the Tennessee prosecutor and set to take effect on July 1, aims to protect the voices of artists from generative AI, marking a significant step for the music industry in terms of protecting artistic integrity. 


Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that AI remains a tool for creativity and artistic expression, without compromising the integrity and reputation of artists.


Technological Advancements to Protect Artistic Integrity

Faced with the challenges related to the proliferation of increasingly accessible covers and deepfakes online, new technology is emerging to continue evolving music with technology while respecting artistic integrity. For example, our tool – CoverNet – detects all of the aforementioned covers and deepfakes across all key online platforms, providing detailed analysis related to monetization, copyright, and much more.


Its dual-interface user experience provides intuitive access to a wealth of information regarding the use of your musical copyright online, with a fully customizable experience enabling you to obtain essential insights into the use of your music.


Conclusion

Unlicensed covers and AI-generated deepfakes, as evolving elements of the music industry, offer unprecedented opportunities for innovation and exposure, but they also present complex challenges that demand careful management. That's why protecting intellectual property and reputation remains paramount, requiring a deep understanding of constantly evolving laws and vigilance against emerging threats such as deepfakes.


Ultimately, the future of music depends on creators' ability to adapt to technological changes while preserving artistic essence. By skillfully balancing innovation with rights protection, artists can not only thrive but also shape the future of the music industry.

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