Did The AI Drake, The Weeknd Song Breach Copyright?
This week, a popular AI-generated song that mimicked Drake and The Weeknd was taken down from streaming platforms, but did it really violate copyright as Universal claimed?
Before Universal Music Group requested that “Heart On My Sleeve” be taken down from Spotify, Apple Music, and other platforms, it amassed millions of plays and was written by a person going by the handle @ghostwriter.
Andres Guadamuz, a professor of intellectual property law at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, is not persuaded that the song violated copyright.
He spoke to AFP about some of the concerns being raised as such examples appear to be on the rise, with an uncanny AI Liam Gallagher from Oasis replication generating buzz.
Was the song copyright violated
Only the vocal’s sound was recognized on “Heart On My Sleeve,” as the background music was brand-new and “you can’t copyright the sound of someone’s voice,” according to Guadamuz.
Perhaps the uproar over AI impersonators will result in copyright being broadened to cover voice as well as melody, lyrics, and other produced aspects, but Guadamuz said that would be troublesome.
“Voice isn’t really that; what you’re protecting with copyright is the expression of an idea.”
According to him, Universal likely asserted copyright infringement because it is the quickest way to remove content and there are already established protocols with streaming providers.
“Most of the time, these issues are settled by record labels raising a fuss with the distribution companies rather than by the law. According to Guadamuz, it’s simpler for the platform to simply comply.
Other rights, were they violated?
A fake person created by AI can be breaking further laws.
In the United States, “publicity rights” or equivalent image rights may apply to an artist’s distinctive voice or appearance. These rights may also apply in other nations.
In 1988, Bette Midler successfully sued Ford for using a fake version of her in an advertisement. In 1993, Tom Waits prevailed in a comparable lawsuit against the Frito-Lays potato chip manufacturer.
Guadamuz noted that it is “very hit and miss” where these rights are really enforced, with some nations taking it considerably more seriously than others.
Additionally, there are currently no simple methods for removing content from streaming sites that is believed to violate picture rights.
The key legal dispute that will soon arise concerns the training of AI programs.
A copyright violation could be claimed if existing Drake and Weeknd songs are used to train an AI software, but Guadamuz said this issue was far from resolved.
“You need to copy the music in order to train the AI, and so that unauthorised copying could potentially be copyright infringement,” he explained.
“However, defendants will argue that it is fair usage. They are training a machine to listen to music using it, after which they will delete the copies.
In the end, we’ll just have to wait till the case law is resolved.
But it’s probably too late to stop the flood now.
Bands will need to determine whether they want to pursue this in court because copyright lawsuits are costly, according to Guadamuz.
“Some artists could tap into the technology and begin using it themselves—especially when they begin to lose their voice.”