OpenAI Copyright Shield

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, DALL-E and other generative AI tools and technology, held its ‘DevDay’ developer conference this week. It included various announcements and a keynote from CEO Sam Altman setting out some stats, and what the company is doing next.

That included the announcement that there are around two million developers building on the company’s API, while ChatGPT now has 100 million weekly active users. This sounds like an old stat, but it’s not. ChatGPT had 100 million monthly active users in January this year. Now that figure is weekly actives.

There were various announcements in the keynote, but the one that may be of most interest to the music industry is called ‘Copyright Shield’.

“Copyright Shield means that we will step in and defend our customers and pay the costs incurred, if you face legal claims around copyright infringement,” is how Altman introduced it. This applies to developers using the ChatGPT Enterprise product and OpenAI’s API.

There isn’t a direct music angle here – in his appearance before a US Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, Altman made a point of saying that OpenAI’s past musical experiments (2020’s Jukebox for example) were just that: experiments. Research projects rather than commercial products.

(But if and when OpenAI does anything commercial with AI music, it will be interesting to see if its Copyright Shield extends to that or not…)

It’s the principle being set here that is interesting though: a company whose technology is being used by more than two million developers promising to defend them against copyright infringement claims. As TechCrunch noted in its report on ‘Copyright Shield’, other AI firms have similar policies.

Let’s be clear: the music industry’s interaction with a company like OpenAI isn’t just about the legals. Music companies are among those two million developers. Spotify, for example, is using OpenAI’s tech to power its ‘DJ’ feature.

With that in mind, it’s worth spending some time with OpenAI’s announcements from its DevDay, particularly its explanation of ‘GPTs’ – which it pitched as a new way to “create custom versions of ChatGPT that combine instructions, extra knowledge, and any combination of skills”. With the promise – an increasingly familiar clarion call in the tech world – that “no coding is required”.

There is huge potential for music-related GPTs, created by music companies, music-tech startups and musicians. Licensing will of course be important when copyrighted material is part of them.

But it’s a reminder that the important conversations (including arguments) about how AI relates to copyright should not hold the music industry back in exploring what it can build with these technologies – and the companies behind them.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight