AI: The Challenges Of Tackling Music Copyright
With music generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming increasingly present in songs, questions will be asked as to whether there is an increasing danger of algorithms producing tracks similar to those already in existence.
Three AI companies leading the way in the music industry are potentially facing a serious challenge in an uncertain future. With music generated by artificial intelligence becoming increasingly present in songs, questions will be asked as to whether there is an increasing danger of algorithms producing tracks similar to those already in existence.
There are two areas of copyright to explore in the case of the use of AI in the music industry, the first being how the companies deal with copyright claims made by major record labels. The second, perhaps the less pressing matter, is how the companies distribute licenses to use tracks created by their AI software to its own users.
Amper Music is an AI based composer, performer and producer which empowers the user to create and customise original music in a matter of seconds using their unique software. Similarly, Jukedeck is a UK start-up company based in London which uses state-of-the-art technology and AI to dynamically shape music to different situations, using machine learning so that the programs musical tools get better over time. Both companies pride themselves on uniqueness, meaning that every single track created by their AI and related software is uniquely crafted with no risk of it being used by someone else. As a result, any chance of a track being produced by their algorithm which sounds very similar to, let’s say a very popular pre-existing track, would be completely coincidental.
As Eliza Legzdina, Head of Operations at Jukedeck, explained to me: "We are confident that our system is built in a way which it won’t duplicate anything that it’s trained on. However, if there happens to be a remarkable likeability to another pre-existing track, that’s purely due to chance and could never be an exact replica. That’s not how the system works."
AI. Music is a start-up company that is exploring what happens when you apply the latest techniques in AI to music creation. It is developing software which will 'shape-change' existing songs. What this means is that when you listen to a song, e.g. a Rihanna track, it could be an acoustic version in the morning and then at the gym it could become a deep house or drum’n’bass track and then it could become a jazz track when you’re winding down in the evening.
In order to combat potential copyright claims, Lead Audio DSP Engineer at AI. Music, David Ronan, says they recognise the issue and have decided to take a direct approach. "We're currently working with original content that will be licensed on our platform but are also in talks with major labels with regards to copyright issues", he explained.
With regards to how the companies deal with internal copyright with tracks created by their own AI, both Amper and Jukedeck have systems in place. Head of Sales at Amper, Jaime Gillespie* said: "We retain the copyright to every track that’s created but we give you a global royalty free, perpetual use license for the track.”
Amper is currently in open beta but it is likely that it will be getting pulled soon according to sources I have spoken to at the company**. At this moment in time no tracks can be used for commercial purposes if they have been created during the beta. Once this is over users will start paying to use the service and obtain a license to use created tracks as a result.
At the time of writing Jukedeck has three options, one for individuals, small businesses or non-profits, one for large businesses and then there is also the option to buy the copyright. All the options allow the user to use their uniquely created tracks for commercial or non-commercial purposes on any platform or medium but they would only be able to resell the track or make it available for others to use if they bought the copyright.
To their credit, having spoken to all three companies about this issue, the plans they have put in place seem very secure. However, as AI becomes further embedded and encompassed into tracks and in the music industry itself as a whole over the years to come, it is easy to identify that lines could become blurred and there could be some highly contentious copyright claims in the future.
*Jaime Gillespie left her position at Amper Music in May 2018.
** Amper Music discontinued its support for its beta AI music composer software on 25th October 2018 and now focuses solely on its enterprise products.