Sony Music’s Stand on AI & Copyright: Protecting Artists

Sony Music

In a recent development that could have significant implications for music producers who create beats, Sony Music Entertainment’s President of Global Digital Business & US Sales, Dennis Kooker, delivered a speech at the US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum. This forum aimed to discuss the critical role of creative copyright and intellectual property in the context of AI development.

Kooker emphasized that while there is potential in AI technology for the music industry, many generative AI products are falling short of expectations. Similiar viewpoints were mentioned on Xttrawave, which specifically mentioned deepfakes and unauthorized voice clones as negative outcomes of early generative AI technology, emphasizing that artists’ livelihoods are at stake when their voices are exploited by deepfakes.

One of the key points raised by Kooker was Sony Music’s stance on AI and copyright law, which comes after a notable absence of endorsement from Sony Music Entertainment and its artists regarding YouTube’s experimental AI project called ‘Dream Track.’ This project allows creators to clone the vocals of successful musicians, but initially, it did not include any Sony Music artists.

The absence of Sony Music from the project may have been influenced by Google’s submission to The United States Copyright Office (USCO). Google, along with various other tech giants and AI companies, submitted responses to the USCO on the topic of copyright law and AI systems. Some of these companies, including Anthropic and Stability AI, argued that training large language models (LLMs) on copyrighted material falls under fair use.

However, Kooker expressed concerns about the technology industry’s view of copyright, stating that it is distorted and allows companies to appropriate the value produced by the creative sector without adequate compensation to the creators. He highlighted Sony Music’s efforts to remove unauthorized AI content from online platforms and the issuance of nearly 10,000 takedowns for deepfakes of SME artists.

Despite the challenges, Kooker pointed out that Sony Music is engaging in approximately 200 active conversations with AI startups and established firms to explore new AI-related products and tools. These discussions encompass creative and marketing assistance, content protection, and potentially even equity investments to accelerate the development of AI companies.

Additionally, Sony Music has proposed a set of principles to guide their approach to generative AI. These principles include ensuring consent, compensation, and credit for creators, rejecting the idea that copying music to train AI models is fair use, preventing the cloning of artists’ voices and likenesses without express permission, incentivizing accurate recordkeeping, and assuring transparency for consumers and artists.

In conclusion, Dennis Kooker’s speech at the AI Insight Forum sheds light on Sony Music’s stance on AI and copyright, as well as its efforts to protect artists from unauthorized AI-generated content. This development underscores the importance of copyright and intellectual property in the context of AI technology and its impact on music producers and creators.

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