In recent months, music industry bodies and rightsholders have been speaking publicly more often about what they think about creative artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
What do they think? They welcome its potential as a new tool for human musicians to use, but also have concerns about whether it might have negative impacts too.
Oh, and they’re really not happy about the prospect of tech companies training creative AIs on commercially-released music without permission, payments or licensing deals.
That’s our quick summary, but if you want a longer explanation, we’ll point you in the direction of an initiative announced at SXSW today: the Human Artistry Campaign.
It’s the work of a collection of more than 40 organisations from across the creative, media and sports industries. From music,, that includes the likes of IFPI, the RIAA, the BPI, the NMPA, ASCAP, SESAC, SoundExchange, Songwriters of North America and the Black Music Action Coalition and The Trichordist among others.
The campaign’s declared mission is “to ensure artificial intelligence technologies are developed and used in ways that support human culture and artistry – and not ways that replace or erode it”.
How? Well, it’s starting with a set of principles: the best practices that the campaign’s members would like to see technology companies follow as they build their models and put them to commercial use.
The principles start with the positive: slotting AI into a lineage of technologies that includes guitar pedals, synthesizers, drum machines and digital audio workstations (DAWs) that have enabled humans to create their art.
It also hails AI’s use outside the creative process: from recommendation technologies to payment systems and fan-engagement services.
The set of principles also sets out the view that “people relate most deeply to works that embody the lived experience, perceptions, and attitudes of others”, and claims that “only humans can create and fully realize works written, recorded, created, or performed with such specific meaning”.
Then comes the tougher talk. “The use of copyrighted works requires permission from the copyright owner. AI must be subject to free-market licensing for the use of works in the development and training of AI models. Creators and copyright owners must retain exclusive control over determining how their content is used.”
This includes voices and likenesses of performers and athletes, not just the work that the former create.
The principles also urge governments not to create “new copyright or other IP exemptions that allow AI developers to exploit creators without permission or compensation”.
That’s an argument that has been playing out in the UK in recent months, where such an exemption was on the cards for a while, before the latest government decided to go back to the drawing board.
The Human Artistry Campaign also believes that “copyright should only protect the unique value of human intellectual creativity” – rather than “output solely created and generated by machines”.
This is a live debate in the US, where the Copyright Office has this week offered its latest guidelines on this exact question.
It is a topic with enormous grey areas, because in many (perhaps most) cases, works – songs, images, writing, etc – will be created not by an AI or by a human, but a combination of the two.
As things stand, a song composed entirely by an AI is not copyrightable in the US, but a song where a human has taken music composed by an AI and edited, arranged, sampled and/or remixed it? That can be protected by copyright – but the onus is on the human to explain the process when applying for it.
(This recent Copyright Office decision on a graphic novel using AI-generated images is a relevant example. The images themselves didn’t qualify for copyright, but the arrangement of them by the human author did.)
Finally, the new campaign’s principles include one on transparency – clearly labelling content generated solely by AI so that people understand the process – and one on ensuring that creators are represented whenever policymakers are crafting new rules or legislation around AI.
Clearly these are principles that the music industry will swing behind, but none of the 40+ members of the Human Artistry Campaign at launch are companies from the creative AI sector, as far as we can see.
So, we don’t know what they think of these principles, or whether they’ll sign up. We’ll find out the answers to both of those questions pretty soon, now that the campaign has launched – complete with an online petition for people to declare their support.
The full list of launch members is below, followed by the full text of the campaign’s founding principles. And while you’re here, why not check out our recent analysis of AI music’s key talking points in 2022; our primer on the sector from earlier last year; and our archive of stories about musical AIs and AI creativity more generally…
Human Artistry Campaign members:
AFL-CIO; American Association of Independent Music; American Federation of Musicians; Americana Music Association; American Photographic Artists; Artist Rights Alliance; Artist Rights Watch; ASCAP; Association of American Publishers; Black Music Action Coalition; BPI; Christian Music Trade Association; Church Music Publishers Association; Concept Art Association; Department of Professional Employees, AFL-CIO; European Composer and Songwriter Alliance; Future of Music Coalition; Georgia Music Partners; Global Music Rights; Gospel Music Association; Graphic Artists Guild; IFPI; International Federation of Actors; #IRespectMusic; Living Legends Foundation; MLB Players’ Association; Music Artists Coalition; Music Tech Policy; Music Workers Alliance; National Music Publishers’ Association; News Media Alliance; NFL Players Association; NHL Players’ Association; Professional Photographers of America; Recording Academy; Recording Industry Association of America; Rhythm & Blues Foundation; SAG-AFTRA; SESAC, Songwriters of North America; SoundExchange and The Trichordist.
And now the campaign’s core principles:
1. Technology has long empowered human expression, and AI will be no different.
For generations, various technologies have been used successfully to support human creativity. Take music, for example… From piano rolls to amplification to guitar pedals to synthesizers to drum machines to digital audio workstations, beat libraries and stems and beyond, musical creators have long used technology to express their visions through different voices, instruments, and devices. AI already is and will increasingly play that role as a tool to assist the creative process, allowing for a wider range of people to express themselves creatively.
Moreover, AI has many valuable uses outside of the creative process itself, including those that amplify fan connections, hone personalized recommendations, identify content quickly and accurately, assist with scheduling, automate and enhance efficient payment systems – and more. We embrace these technological advances.
2. Human-created works will continue to play an essential role in our lives.
Creative works shape our identity, values, and worldview. People relate most deeply to works that embody the lived experience, perceptions, and attitudes of others. Only humans can create and fully realize works written, recorded, created, or performed with such specific meaning. Art cannot exist independent of human culture.
3. Use of copyrighted works, and use of the voices and likenesses of professional performers, requires authorization, licensing, and compliance with all relevant state and federal laws.
We fully recognize the immense potential of AI to push the boundaries for knowledge and scientific progress. However, as with predecessor technologies, the use of copyrighted works requires permission from the copyright owner. AI must be subject to free-market licensing for the use of works in the development and training of AI models. Creators and copyright owners must retain exclusive control over determining how their content is used. AI developers must ensure any content used for training purposes is approved and licensed from the copyright owner, including content previously used by any pre-trained AIs they may adopt. Additionally, performers’ and athletes’ voices and likenesses must only be used with their consent and fair market compensation for specific uses.
4. Governments should not create new copyright or other IP exemptions that allow AI developers to exploit creators without permission or compensation.
AI must not receive exemptions from copyright law or other intellectual property laws and must comply with core principles of fair market competition and compensation. Creating special shortcuts or legal loopholes for AI would harm creative livelihoods, damage creators’ brands, and limit incentives to create and invest in new works.
5. Copyright should only protect the unique value of human intellectual creativity.
Copyright protection exists to help incentivize and reward human creativity, skill, labor, and judgment -not output solely created and generated by machines. Human creators, whether they use traditional tools or express their creativity using computers, are the foundation of the creative industries and we must ensure that human creators are paid for their work.
6. Trustworthiness and transparency are essential to the success of AI and protection of creators.
Complete recordkeeping of copyrighted works, performances, and likenesses, including the way in which they were used to develop and train any AI system, is essential. Algorithmic transparency and clear identification of a work’s provenance are foundational to AI trustworthiness. Stakeholders should work collaboratively to develop standards for technologies that identify the input used to create AI-generated output. In addition to obtaining appropriate licenses, content generated solely by AI should be labeled describing all inputs and methodology used to create it — informing consumer choices, and protecting creators and rightsholders.
7. Creators’ interests must be represented in policymaking.
Policymakers must consider the interests of human creators when crafting policy around AI. Creators live on the forefront of, and are building and inspiring, evolutions in technology and as such need a seat at the table in any conversations regarding legislation, regulation, or government priorities regarding AI that would impact their creativity and the way it affects their industry and livelihood.
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