Creative AI and copyright? It’s fair to say the music industry has plenty of views on that. Now the US Copyright Office wants to hear them – as well as the opinions of AI developers and startups, copyright experts and any other interested parties.
It is requesting comments for its latest study of copyright law and policy issues raised by AI systems, with a deadline for written comments of 18 October, then for written reply comments of 15 November.
The study will zero in on three topics in particular: “those involved in the use of copyrighted works to train AI models, the appropriate levels of transparency and disclosure with respect to the use of copyrighted works, and the legal status of AI-generated outputs”.
All three are matters which the music industry has already been considering, and indeed, setting out its opinions.
There are the principles announced by the Human Artistry Campaign, for example, as well as UK Music’s position paper on artificial intelligence. July brought two separate open letters to policymakers from organisations in Europe, meanwhile: here and here.
To summarise the consensus in terms of the Copyright Office study’s key topics: music rightsholders want AI companies to require licences to train their models on copyrighted content, and they want those companies to keep clear, auditable records on the process.
Meanwhile, the industry doesn’t think purely AI-generated works should qualify for copyright protection. “Without human creativity there should be no copyright,” as UK Music put it.
So, we pretty much know what music industry entities will be saying in their submissions to the Copyright Office.
What will be interesting will be the opportunity to compare that to what companies in the AI sector think – until now, they haven’t really set out their views as publicly and fully as the rightsholders have.
The Copyright Office’s notice of inquiry offers some reminders of its previous work on AI and copyright, some of which Music Ally has covered.
In March this year it published a new statement of policy that dug into some of the nuances around what is and isn’t “the product of human creativity” when AI tools are involved.
This followed a ruling in February about a graphic novel created with images made on the Midjourney service. The Copyright Office ruled that the individual images were not copyrightable, but their arrangement in the overall work were.
Further back, in 2020 it co-organised an event to discuss copyright in the age of AI, including a specific session on AI music featuring speakers including Boomy CEO Alex Mitchell and RIAA CTO David Hughes.