Generative AI. The biggest threat to the music industry since Napster.

Recently, generative AI systems have become the hottest music artists, as they have raised legal questions related to copyright law.

In April, such a system produced the song “Heart on My Sleeve,” which sounded exactly like the voices of Drake and The Weeknd. The song received millions of listens across multiple streaming platforms while confusing fans with the verisimilitude of the recognizable voices. In response to the song’s widespread digital consumption, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and TikTok pulled the song from circulation.

Ghostwritten Songs:

From the social media and music self-publishing platform user known only as Ghostwriter, “Heart on My Sleeve” has raised many intellectual property concerns. It has even shaken historical notions of such ownership as a legal concept, as generative AI is taken more and more seriously among some of music’s most powerful organizations.

One such organization is Universal Music Group, the international music company that represents artists such as Drake and The Weeknd. They weren’t having Ghostwriter antics. After the release of “Heart on My Sleeve,” Universal’s lawyers sent a letter to streaming services asking that such platforms block artificial intelligence systems from accessing their material to learn elements of copyrighted music.

Other users on various streaming and social media platforms have also used AI like Ghostwriter. For example, a TikTok user known only as “garytheproducer” used generative AI to recreate Ariana Grande’s voice in a cover of Drake’s “Controlla.” The cover has garnered over a million views and over 100,000 likes.

Given Universal’s response to generative AI in music, it’s pretty clear that such AI systems are raising red flags even among the biggest players in the music industry. Everywhere you turn, it’s becoming increasingly clear that AI is a force to be reckoned with. A revolution has begun, and it’s changing the way we perceive everything, including what it means to be a creative in the music industry.

However, some artists have been kinder to AI. After all, cooperation can be profitable. in theory, it’s not that different from your song to another artist for whom you receive royalties. in an interview with Rolling stoneAn artist known as Grimes, anyone can use their voice in an AI-generated song as long as they are paid 50% of the royalties from such material.

AI raises philosophical questions

Under US copyright law, a reproducer of any original work almost always needs a copyright license to distribute reproductions of those works.

It Harvard Business Review addressed these questions in their April article, “Generative AI Has an Intellectual Property Problem.” The authors draw attention to a case called 2022 Anderson v. stability AI. In that case, the artists filed a class action lawsuit against the AI ​​platforms. In the complaint, the artists claim that the platforms’ use and reproduction of their original material is a copyright violation.

In Anderson In the event, the important issue is really one of who actually owns the material allegedly infringed by the AI ​​systems. Similar questions are raised by the songs released by Ghostwriter and garytheproducer. The music of Two Bears is very similar to the music of other famous artists. But are works created by artificial intelligence systems really infringing copyright as stated? Anderson case and other generative AI music makers?

Generative AI learns from the material it is exposed to. It draws from such material. As a consequence of its learning processes, it creates and engages in intelligent actions at least the same as those of human beings. In the human process of engaging in creativity, even work that is considered “original” by law, humans also engage in a process that appears to be very similar to that of generative AI systems involved in such processes. As such, isn’t an artificial intelligence system similar to a human creator in that it relies on experience to engage in productive activities, whether in the realm of art or any other area of ​​life?

Beyond the philosophical question of what it means to be human and engage in creativity, there are of course tougher legal questions that AI raises.

In circumstances like Ghostwriter’s and garytheproducer’s, monumental issues of intellectual property law are at stake.

Article 1 of the US Constitution states that Congress has the power.

Meanwhile, the US Copyright Office states that copyright protects “original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works such as poetry, novels, films, songs, computer programs, and architecture.”

In situations like Ghostwriter and garytheproducer, it’s only natural for someone to ask:

the authors of Review: the article states that the court should examine whether platforms are liable for “unlicensed” and “derivative” works. If the material on the platforms is determined to be “insufficiently derivative” of the artists’ copyrighted works, the court will likely find that the platforms have infringed. In other words, the question is whether the reproductions of these artists’ materials created by artificial intelligence are sufficiently different from these artists’ materials that they are not infringing.

The authors also argue how the courts will decide Andersen depends on how the fair use doctrine is interpreted in the case. In some circumstances, this doctrine allows copyrighted material to be reproduced without a license to do so. This doctrine allows reproduction without licenses when it comes to satire, commentary, reporting, teaching and scientific works. In Anderson case, the court must also consider whether the products of artificial intelligence platforms constitute what the fair use doctrine allows, since these types of reproduction where licenses are not required. If a court finds that the works on the platforms are such reproductions, the fair use doctrine will protect the AI ​​platforms from liability for copyright infringement.


Remember that this case is not yet decided. It’s just another case of uncertainty about how copyright law might change in a world where generative AI is able to pass itself off as a music superstar. Regardless of how the case is settled, it is clear that the protections historically afforded to original works of authorship are being shaken to their core.

For more information on laws and legal issues related to music created by artificial intelligence generating systems, see FindLaw’s Learn about the Law pages.

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