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Artificial Intelligence Raises Music Copyright Questions

Algorithms and artificial intelligence are changing the way people live and work, from learning the natural language intricacies of Siri and Alexa users and predicting how Tesla drivers will want their seats and air conditioning set up to harnessing quantum computing to tackle some of life’s biggest issues, like poverty and disease.

The AI revolution is also putting its stamp on the music world, including by using algorithms to write and record new tunes. That raises a number of complicated copyright issues, as The Verge recently reported. Among them: Who owns the copyright to music created by artificial intelligence? And what if the algorithm is trained based on a specific artist’s existing body of work?

It may take quite some time to sort those questions out. Spotify, Google and IBM are among the tech and entertainment companies that have already developed AI music creation services. Those tools draw on deep learning technology, reviewing a wide range of tunes to uncover patterns and other information, like chords and melodies, to eventually be able to pump out their own jams.

What’s not clear is who – if anyone – could claim authorship of works created with these tools. In other words, who has the right to seek copyright protection so that the song can’t be reproduced without his, her or its permission?

Then there are questions about the source material that AI programs use to get learned up. The Verge story, for example, poses the hypothetical situation in which an algorithm is trained solely on Beyoncé songs. If the tool then uses that information to create a new song that closely mimics Queen Bey’s sound, would that violate her existing copyright (and perhaps trademark) protections?

It’s safe to say that these are questions that will be batted around by the courts for years to come.

Speak with an Experienced Intellectual Property Lawyer

Despite the new and interesting questions raised by the rise of AI, copyright is an important legal tool that helps people protect their creative material. That includes works like literature, music, art, drama and other tangible forms of expression. 

Copyright protection generally bans others from using the work without the author’s consent during the life of the author and an additional 70 years.  There are some important exceptions, however, including for “fair use.”

Contact Our Office Today

If you or your business has been victimized by intellectual property theft, you have the right to seek compensation from those responsible. You also have the power to block them from doing it again. It is vital that you seek the assistance of an experienced intellectual property lawyer.

At Glancy Prongay & Murray, our attorneys combine decades of experience to get companies the compensation they deserve and hold intellectual property thieves fully accountable. We are pleased to offer a number of fee arrangements to share the financial risk with our clients. Call us at (310) 201-9150 or contact us online to speak with an intellectual property lawyer today.