In a united front, the Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and a coalition of music organisations have addressed the Government of Canada with concerns about the increasing influence of artificial intelligence (AI) on the music industry. The letter, which emphasises the need to prevent AI from replacing human creativity and culture, outlines key recommendations to safeguard the rights and interests of music creators.
SOCAN’s threefold concerns
The letter sent to the Canadian government underscores three major concerns regarding the impact of AI on the music industry:
Unauthorised exploitation of creative works: SOCAN and its coalition members express concern about AI models’ unauthorised use of pre-existing creative works without the rights holder’s consent or compensation. This issue raises questions about intellectual property rights and the fair use of copyrighted material in AI-generated content.
Threat to human creators’ livelihood: AI systems are seen as a potential threat to the livelihoods of human creators. Automating and mass-producing music through AI could reduce opportunities and income for human musicians, songwriters, and composers.
Misuse of creator’s voice and likeness: The letter also highlights the risk of AI systems being utilised to imitate creators’ voices or likenesses without their knowledge or consent. This potential misuse of AI technology raises ethical and legal concerns.
Proposed principles for AI regulation
To address these concerns, SOCAN and its fellow music organisations have put forward a set of principles that they recommend the Canadian government adopt as part of any AI regulatory or policy framework:
Protection of human expression and copyright: Any proposal that weakens or conflicts with the protection of human expression and copyright should be rejected. This principle emphasises the importance of maintaining a balance between AI innovation and safeguarding the rights of creators.
No new copyright exceptions for AI developers: There should be no new copyright exceptions that permit AI developers to use creators’ works without their permission to develop AI models. This principle aims to preserve creators’ control over how their works are used.
Transparency and identification: AI developers must be transparent about the specific works exploited by an AI model and how those works were sourced and used. Creators should be able to identify whether their works have been used in AI-generated content. Additionally, developers should implement methods to identify or detect AI-generated content, and the music industry should consider adopting a labelling standard to distinguish AI-generated music.
Permission for intellectual property and personality rights: AI developers must obtain permission from creators or their representatives before using their intellectual property or personality rights, including voice and likeness. This principle seeks to protect creators from the unauthorised use of their likeness or voice in AI-generated content.
SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown emphasised that these principles are a foundational framework for ensuring that AI evolves and grows responsibly while respecting music creators’ invaluable contributions.
Furthermore, SOCAN is actively participating in an open consultation scheduled to conclude on January 15, 2024. The consultation focuses on generative AI and copyright implications and is organised by Canadian Heritage and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada. SOCAN’s involvement in this consultation underscores its commitment to actively engage with the government and industry stakeholders in shaping the future of AI in the music industry.
The music industry, represented by SOCAN and its coalition of music organisations, is taking a proactive stance in addressing the impact of AI on music creation and distribution. By advocating for adopting these principles, they aim to strike a balance between technological advancement and preserving human creativity and culture in the Canadian music landscape. The outcome of their efforts will play a pivotal role in shaping the regulatory and copyright policies related to AI systems in Canada, ensuring that creators’ rights are upheld while harnessing the potential of AI to complement human creativity.