The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has doubled down on its support for direct licensing and the expansion of the right of publicity in response to the Copyright Office’s call for comments on artificial intelligence (AI). Breaking away from the ongoing debate surrounding the fair use of AI systems, ASCAP’s latest submission underscores three crucial points: the significance of direct licensing for creators, the threat AI poses to human creativity, and the need for an enhanced federal right of publicity.
Balancing efficiency and creator’s rights
In its detailed response to the Copyright Office, ASCAP challenges the widely held belief that the efficiency of licensing models justifies a disregard for creators’ rights in the AI era. The organization argues that armchair speculations about the efficiency of licensing do not justify a rampant disregard for creators’ rights. According to ASCAP, licensing models have a history of adapting to evolving technical environments to ensure fair compensation for creators. By emphasizing the adaptability of licensing models, ASCAP seeks to dispel concerns about the feasibility of direct voluntary licensing in the face of the volume of training data required for developing AI tools.
ASCAP points to specific examples, such as the AI platform Boomy, which was developed exclusively from fully licensed or legally obtained materials. This, ASCAP suggests, demonstrates that direct voluntary licensing is not only possible but also a viable approach to address the challenges posed by AI. By focusing on the importance of direct licensing, ASCAP aims to establish a foundation for safeguarding creators’ rights amidst the rapid advancements in AI technology.
ASCAP’s emphasis on direct licensing extends beyond mere efficiency concerns, positioning it as a cornerstone for preserving the rights of creators in an increasingly AI-dominated landscape.
The threat of AI to human creativity
In a departure from the conventional discourse surrounding AI, ASCAP’s submission highlights the organization’s concern about the profound threat AI poses to human creativity. Drawing a distinction between previous technological innovations like sound mixing and autotune, ASCAP points out that generative AI has the unique capability of near-autonomously generating new content at a large scale, instantaneously, and with an increasingly indistinguishable quality from human work.
ASCAP asserts that the resulting threat to creators’ livelihoods is not mere speculation but a tangible and growing phenomenon. By underscoring the potential of AI to supplant human creativity rather than supporting it, ASCAP aims to shift the narrative towards recognizing the broader implications of AI on the creative landscape. The organization contends that a careful balance must be struck between acknowledging the advantages of AI and addressing its exploitative and displacing effects on human creators.
ASCAP’s apprehensions about the impact of AI on human creativity mark a departure from previous discussions, signaling a more nuanced understanding of the challenges posed by AI in the realm of artistic expression and intellectual property.
Advocating for enhanced federal rights of publicity
In a bold move, ASCAP extends its focus beyond the realm of copyright and licensing to advocate for an enhanced federal right of publicity. The organization asserts that arguments against increased protection overlook AI’s unprecedented possibilities for the unauthorized use of a creator’s image, likeness, and voice. ASCAP contends that existing state laws are inadequate to address the complexities introduced by AI and stresses the need for a comprehensive federal framework.
The submission references the No Fakes Act, a legislative effort that emerged in October and aims to establish penalties for unapproved digital replicas involving sound recording artists. ASCAP acknowledges the importance of such legislation but also raises questions about its potential limitations, especially concerning digital replicas of original voices that naturally resemble other commercially prominent voices.
ASCAP’s call for an enhanced federal right of publicity reflects a broader recognition of the evolving challenges in the digital age, where AI capabilities pose unique threats to creators’ personal and artistic identity. As legislation takes shape, ASCAP positions itself at the forefront of advocating for comprehensive protections that go beyond traditional copyright frameworks.
As ASCAP takes a firm stand in favor of direct licensing and expanded rights of publicity, the trajectory of AI legislation becomes increasingly complex. How will lawmakers address the challenges posed by digital replicas of original voices that resemble commercially prominent ones, especially given the diverse training data available? The interplay between AI and creators’ rights continues to evolve, leaving us to ponder the delicate balance between technological advancements and protecting the essence of human creativity.