How the Music Industry Is Fighting Back Against AI Imitation Threats

Is a future where AI may win the Grammys coming?
Is a future where AI may win the Grammys coming?

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Even musicians are worried that computers will take their jobs.

The music industry has always been quick to adapt to new technology. However, it is dealing with a problem where AI can mimic musicians’ styles without asking. This issue could lead to identity theft and make music less valuable, causing many people to call for new rules.

The Rise of AI Music Generation

Generative AI, which copies voices, songwriting, and production styles, risks the authenticity of music careers.

“We are in uncharted legal waters,” said Mitch Glazier, head of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “Using copyrighted works to train these AI models raises clear copyright concerns that existing laws don’t directly address.”

Artists who carefully handle their public image also see AI’s ability to copy as a big threat.

There are questions about whether AI algorithms can truly be viewed as creative or capable of producing original art. Some believe that without human guidance, AI lacks the originality and personal expression that are essential to creativity.

A Tiktoker's AI-generated song recently went viral on the platform. (From: YouTube/JVKE)
A Tiktoker’s AI-generated song recently went viral on the platform. (From: YouTube/JVKE

For example, the experiment with the “Heart on My Sleeve” song used cloned voices similar to those of Drake and The Weeknd. This shows how these systems potentially use copyrighted material from their training datasets. In other words, they may be infringing intellectual property rights.

According to Ezra Klein, AI shows us that people might start to value original music less. This makes it even more worrying for those who think music’s true worth is already dropping.

“It’s pretty easy to do what you do, sound how you sound, make what you make,” she noted.

However, others say that AI systems can still show creativity by generating valuable outputs. This perspective considers AI as a tool that can broaden artistic expression.

An AI bot working on its next top-charting track.
An AI bot working on its next top-charting track.

New AI-human collaborative music tools like MoMusic and Humming2Music illustrate this point.

MoMusic is a motion-driven system that allows musicians to compose and perform songs. This links their body movements to music generation in real-time. Then, it turns the gestures into musical phrases, rhythms, and textures, creating an interactive feedback loop.

Similarly, Humming2Music lets users input a simple hummed or sung melody. The AI then develops this into a full song arrangement. It adds instrumentation, harmonies, and a refined melody line.

These co-creative tools position AI as an interactive collaborator, not just a tool for creating instant music.

Intellectual Property Implications of Using Copyrighted Works

The legal risk created by training AI systems on copyrighted musical works is the central issue in the intellectual property debate. This could let algorithms learn and reproduce stylistic elements that violate copyright protections.

“If these algorithms simply reproduce parts from their training data, even unintentionally, there are clear copyright infringements involved.” said Joseph Fishman, intellectual property law professor at Vanderbilt University.
Universal Music filed a lawsuit against Antrhopic for their AI-bot, Claude. (From: Tada Images/Shutterstock)
Universal Music filed a lawsuit against Antrhopic for their AI-bot, Claude. (From: Tada Images/Shutterstock)

Instances such as Universal Music’s lawsuit against Anthropic for replicating “American Pie” lyrics sum up these risks.

Countries like the UK permit computational works without human authors to be copyrighted. But, the US does not grant such protections to AI-generated content that lacks human creative input. This adds inconsistencies in how AI-generated music is perceived by the law.

The good news is: there are programs that suggest methods to verify the originality of an AI system’s outputs compared to the training data. This approach could help alleviate intellectual property concerns.

Legislative actions, such as the proposed US NO AI FRAUD Act, also aim to establish comprehensive federal policies on generative AI.

Efforts to Legislate and Regulate AI-Generated Content

The ELVIS Act, short for Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security, was signed into law. (From: RollingStone)
The ELVIS Act, short for “Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security,” was signed into law. (From: RollingStone)

In March 2024, Tennessee captured the nation’s attention by enacting the ELVIS Act. This law classifies unauthorized commercial use of AI voice cloning as a criminal misdemeanor. This makes Tennessee the first state to criminalize such acts.

The ELVIS Act, short for “Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security,” was signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. The signing event took place at a Nashville honky-tonk and was attended by well-known people, including country star Luke Bryan.

On the other hand, the European Union takes a broader approach with its AI Act. This legislation will set new rules around training data, including provisions to reduce intellectual property risks from using copyrighted works.

Companies like the Nashville-based startup ViNIL are also developing frameworks to facilitate legal AI transactions. These frameworks help creators and companies seeking to market generated content.

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