Copyright Law

U.S. Copyright Office pledges to keep an eye on the implications of AI

The U.S Copyright Office is to study AI and how generative artificial intelligence should or not not play a role in the music industry.

by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

Artificial intelligence (Ai) is a wonderful tool that can be used to enhance the creativity of any musician, songwriter or producer, but it’s also so new that it treads on areas of copyright that haven’t been fully established yet. Much of this is because the last update to U.S. copyright law was the Digital Millennium Act way back in 1998, which was drafted before internet distribution and streaming. Indeed, the copyright law that we still use was created for artistic works created in the last century.

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The Copyright Office hasn’t been sitting on its hands during the Ai revolution though. In March it published guidance that indicated that any work that is 100% Ai generated cannot be copyrighted. That means a human must be involved, but the question remains, “How much?”

There are other questions about Ai copyright that are debated every day, like who actually owns an Ai generated work? Does an Ai’s training infringe on other copyrights? Does an Ai platform that claims to own the copyright for a generated work actually have that right? Is the use of training material scraped from the internet fair use? These are just some of the issues that have yet to be answered.

To that end, the Copyright Office is requesting comments for a new study on the implications of Ai on artistic works. The deadline for electronic comments is October 18 and for written comments on November 15.

The study will focus on three topics: 
1. “. . .those involved in the use of copyrighted works to train AI models” 

2. “. . .the appropriate levels of transparency and disclosure with respect to the use of copyrighted works” 

3. and “. . .the legal status of AI-generated outputs”

Given the timing of the study, it’s clear that we won’t get definitive guidance until at least next year, but at least it’s coming. 

In the meantime, it’s best to do the following when using any Ai in order to stay as protected as possible:

  • Read the terms and conditions. This is one time when the fine print really counts.
  • Be aware of who owns the copyright to the work that’s generated. Are you being granted a license to use it or will you own the copyright?
  • If you’re being granted a license, does it restrict where you can post the work or if you can monetize it?

There are even more questions, but these are just some of the basic ones to ask, but be aware that the answers you get may be subject to change in the future.

Please Note: This post is not meant to be legal advice. Consult a copyright attorney in your territory to protect your work.

Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer, author, blogger, podcaster, and coach. He has authored 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media.

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