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AI Hits the Charts: The Viral & Legal Phenomena of AI-Crafted Music

AI-generated music is causing legal chaos, as shown by the recent "Heart on My Sleeve" controversy. Strap in as we explore the complexities of copyright law and the potential future of AI's influence on the music industry.
Updated April 24, 2023
a robot in a band playing the drums and guitar as digital art in 4k
a robot in a band playing the drums and guitar as digital art in 4k

AI has officially become a hot topic in the music world.

I mean, it can create songs that sound nearly identical to billboard artists.

These AI-generated tunes have been raising questions about the legalities of using technology to make music. A recent example includes an AI-created song that sounds eerily similar like Drake and The Weeknd.

If you were lucky enough to hear it, you might've thought it was pretty awesome. I won't link it here, but it was all over Twitter for a few days.

Even if you weren't a fan of the lyrics, you can't say it wasn't cool. It's the start of something that doesn't show any signs of stopping anytime soon.

The growing trend of AI music has sparked debates about its impact on the industry, from legal concerns to artistic quality. One major concern is how to protect artists' rights to make sure their work isn't copied without permission.

How does copyright work for someones voice? I mean, some of the songs sound terrifyingly accurate.

Anyone that does a little bit of research could use AI to overlay any lyrics they choose on top of their favorite artists' voice.

But what do you do when when algorithms begin to steal the show?

AI-generated Songs Infiltrating Streaming Services

Songs created with AI have already started to make their way onto streaming platforms like Spotify.

The takeover is not just happening with popular songs. These mysterious tracks often sound eerily similar despite having different titles, artists, and cover art.

One curious case comes from a Spotify user named Adam Faze, who took to Twitter after noticing that the platform recommended multiple songs with near-identical audio but completely different artist names and other details.

He compiled 49 of these tracks into a playlist, highlighting this peculiar phenomenon.

This growing trend of finding AI-generated music on streaming services has left users puzzled about who or what is behind their creation & how these songs manage to find their into recommendation algorithms.

Some serious questions arise regarding the role of streaming platforms in hosting AI-generated content.

As AI-generated music continues to infiltrate streaming services, concerns are mounting over the implications for both the artists and the platforms.

Many wonder whether streaming services should be held accountable for hosting AI-generated content that potentially infringes on copyright or dilutes artistic integrity.

The lack of clear legal guidelines surrounding AI-generated music further complicates matters, raising questions about how platforms can ensure they are providing an authentic and fair listening experience for their users.

The music industry and streaming platforms will need to work together to establish a framework that addresses these ethical, legal, and artistic challenges in order to maintain trust and transparency in the rapidly evolving digital music landscape.

The Legalities Behind AI Music

The AI-generated Drake and Weeknd song, "Heart on My Sleeve," took the internet by storm and stirred up tons of questions surrounding copyright and intellectual property rights.

With the origins of the song still remaining uncertain, the legal implications become increasingly complex.

If we assume that the anonymous Ghostwriter did indeed use AI to create the song, several questions arise.

Did they violate the rights of publicity for Drake and The Weeknd by using their names, likenesses, and voices? And if the song truly is AI-generated, who controls the rights to it and who should be paid for its use on streaming platforms?

And how can traditional, human-generated music compete with AI-generated songs that are quicker and cheaper to produce?

In an attempt to unravel this complicated situation, Chris Mammen, a partner at Womble Bond Dickinson answered some questions.

Mammen started by comparing the AI-generated song with its non-AI counterpart. If someone were to create an original composition that sounded like Drake and The Weeknd without using AI tools, the legal implications would depend on how the song was presented.

If it was falsely advertised as an authentic Drake and The Weeknd collaboration, there would be significant issues. However, if it was clearly labeled as a tribute, the legal ramifications become less clear.

Returning to the AI-generated song scenario, Mammen noted that the TikTok post was ambiguous in its presentation, somewhere between a tribute and an authentic collaboration.

This adds to the complexity of the legal questions surrounding the song and how it trades on the names, images, and likenesses of established artists.

As AI-generated music becomes more prevalent, the legal landscape will need to adapt to address the unique challenges and questions it presents.

The case of "Heart on My Sleeve" serves as a prime example of how the intersection of music, AI, and intellectual property law is becoming increasingly complex, and it is a call to action for the legal and music industries to establish clear guidelines and protections for all parties involved. It's a bit of a mess. When AI enters the equation, the legal landscape becomes even murkier.

If the AI was trained on Drake's music, the question of fair use comes into play. Fair use allows the use of copyrighted material for certain purposes such as education, commentary, and parody.

In the case of AI-generated music, the AI takes in training data, analyzes it, and generates new outputs. The debate then centers on whether using copyrighted material as training data is considered fair use or not.

Several lawsuits are currently underway, focusing on the use of copyrighted material in AI training data.

These cases will be instrumental in setting precedents for situations like Ghostwriter's. Depending on the outcome of these lawsuits, creators like Ghostwriter may either be protected or deterred from pursuing similar endeavors.

If Universal Music Group were to take legal action against Ghostwriter, potential claims would revolve around copyright and fair use, as well as rights of publicity surrounding the publication of the resulting work. The case would likely be analyzed in the context of existing laws concerning tribute bands and cover bands.

The question of whether generating someone's voice through AI and using it in a song constitutes a violation of their rights of publicity is still being debated. Impressionists, for example, can make a living sounding like celebrities without infringing on their rights.

AI-generated voices fall somewhere in-between, and the current focus is on the use of training data. However, other questions may arise, such as whether generating a voice that sounds like Drake without using his music as training data would still be considered problematic.

In the existing lawsuits, AI platforms that ingested and used the training data to train algorithms are named as defendants rather than individual users. If Ghostwriter were to be sued, the platform they used to create the song could potentially be brought into the lawsuit.

If Universal chooses not to take legal action, Ghostwriter could potentially sue Universal and streaming platforms, arguing that they did not violate anyone's copyright and that the song should be re-uploaded. However, this scenario raises complex questions around fair use, commercial use, and commentary, making the outcome uncertain.

Ultimately, the Ghostwriter case highlights the complex and evolving legal landscape surrounding AI-generated music. The outcomes of pending lawsuits and future cases will play a significant role in shaping the guidelines and protections for all parties involved in this emerging field.

If it's not considered commercial use, then it might be harder to make a case for copyright infringement or other related claims.

However, the issue of AI-generated music and its implications on the music industry goes beyond just making money. It also brings up questions about creativity, artistic expression, and the value of human-generated works. As we've seen, the legal framework surrounding AI and intellectual property is still evolving, and the answers to these questions might not be clear-cut.

Even if no one is making money from a particular AI-generated song, it could still have an impact on the music industry as a whole, potentially leading to changes in business models and how artists are compensated. This might prompt legal battles and debates among various stakeholders in the industry, as they try to navigate this complex and rapidly evolving landscape.

Ultimately, the conversation around AI-generated music and the law will continue, with various perspectives and interests shaping the outcomes.

As cases make their way through the courts and new insights emerge, the legal landscape will likely shift and adapt to accommodate these new technologies and the unique challenges they present. However, this process may take time, and the law will always be somewhat behind the pace of technological advancements.

In the meantime, artists, creators, and the broader music industry will need to grapple with the implications of AI-generated music and its place within the legal framework.

So What's Next for Artificial Music?

AI and music are blending together in ways we couldn't have imagined, and it's sparking up a fire that is about to blow up. The "Heart on My Sleeve" situation is just the tip of the iceberg.

We can't help but wonder, how will the laws adapt to all these AI-driven tunes? And what mind-blowing, out-of-the-box stuff might happen when AI and music keep jamming together in the future?

Imagine a world where AI-generated songs top the charts, collabs between artists and algorithms become the norm, and musical styles we've never heard before emerge.

It's all possible, but what does that mean for the industry, artists, and listeners alike? Will AI help us push the boundaries of creative expression or just muddy the waters? And most importantly, how will our laws and rights evolve to keep up with this rapidly changing landscape?

It's a wild ride, and we're all strapped in for a fascinating adventure. The next couple of years are going to be extremely interesting.

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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