As AI music generators get more sophisticated, the issue of copyright ownership is becoming increasingly complex. With AI tools becoming capable of creating entire songs without human input, questions arise about who owns the rights to these creations and how they should be licensed and monetized.
Music created by artificial intelligence (AI for short) is becoming a big topic of conversation. Perform an internet search for AI music generators, and you will see many websites that create AI music at the touch of a button.
As a musician, many ethical and legal complications arise when contemplating the use of AI music. The first question being – should you? Really! You are a creative individual. Why would you let a machine take away your creativity and individuality?
You are only fooling yourself if you think music produced by a machine is yours, even if the website providing the music is telling you otherwise. AI music will not reflect your personality – which is the essence of artistic expression.
Creativity and Copyright
Let us talk about AI music creativity and copyright (the latter being a legal term for protecting a unique creation in the eyes of the law).
For every artist, surely the goal is to impose your ideas on the world to let the masses know what you are about and how unique you are as an individual.
If you write a song, then you know its origins. You felt the emotion upon its delivery. You agonized over the words, the melodies, the chord progressions, and the stylistic voicing to find the feeling you wanted to impart. You are assured beyond any doubt that you created the song.
The musical work never existed before you brought it into the world – how cool is that!
By contrast, AI music will not give you that same satisfaction. An AI piece of music has been concocted from many existing songs and is basically one big ‘mash-up.’
An AI cannot create something from nothing. It must be fed pre-written songs to learn from and use as a basis for new work. This means you cannot know for sure that AI music is unique enough to satisfy the lawmakers, a doubt that will always lurk in the back of your mind.
With every passing day, there is a chance you could receive a call or an email saying, “Hello, you have broken the law by copying someone else’s song.” If you do get that call, you will have no argument against the judgment because you will not know where the AI music originated from.
You can never be sure you did not copy the said works unwillingly. You will have no defense because no paper trail proof exists. The work was created remotely by an AI analyzing existing songs.
Furthermore, you probably do not own the copyright to your AI song and may never do. As of the time of writing, ownership of copyright to AI-generated music is still to be established within the law in most countries.
Do not pay for Copyright – at least not yet.
To look further into the subject of AI music copyright, there is a disturbing trend for AI music websites to ask for money to transfer copyright ownership to the end user.
Before paying them a dime, it is vital to reiterate that currently, the legal world has not recognized that AI musical works can indeed be copyrighted!
Think twice before paying for ownership of AI music when ownership has not yet been established.
Equally as important is to know that at any time in the future, you could be sued for copyright infringement of existing songs. The legal system still has to establish whether copyright laws have been broken in the generation of AI music, as they are based on content from established and protected works.
You are being asked to pay for a copyright that does not currently exist, one for which you may be liable and sued for infringement of intellectual property if the music you use is too similar to an existing song!
In the musical world, independent musicians are encouraged to replicate successful artists to earn money and find success for themselves. No more so than in the world of synchronization.
Sync, as it is known for short, is the act of placing music to images – think TV adverts or film scores. If you have ever tried to write a piece of music for a sync opportunity, you will know that it is common practice to be given a reference track as a guide.
Basically, the production company wants you to recreate the said track without paying huge royalties to the original creator; and we more commonly accept this to be okay, which is why AI music generation is so tempting. It is becoming the norm to use other musicians’ songs as the backbone for new work, and the more it happens, the less we are shocked by the practice.
We are becoming conditioned to hearing similar songs. So, AI music may easily creep into our daily lives if we let it.
We like exciting new things and want them to land in our lap without much effort. If a machine can perform a task in seconds that would typically take us many hours, and the results are exciting to our minds and ears, then we are all in.
Again, do not be deceived. AI music is not yours.
It is not your personality that is reflected – just a mash-up of previously recorded successful songs. You are selling yourself short if you pass AI music as your own.
Where AI Music Works
However, I see various legitimate uses for AI music creation in the studio.
If you create video content that needs a backing track, it makes sense to grab a sound bed instantly with no production costs. You do not need to own the copyright, and the AI music sounds great as a backdrop to your images.
This makes economic sense, but the guy who currently gets paid for writing your music will be losing out, which leaves you with an important ethical decision to make.
As a songwriting tool, too, AI music can be useful.
If you already know your unique voice and want to explore new avenues, then yes, generate an AI musical idea in your genre and think of it as a starting point. View the work as a collaboration. Remold the sounds and ideas to how you would normally write. Take it, run with it, and make the voice your own.
The new song should sound, feel and fit into your back catalog and future content as if it came from your mind totally; it should be your personality that is dominant in the works.
Try your best to be an authentic artist. Believe in yourself. Believe in your talent. Speak musically in your own voice and make your mark on the waiting world. Create songs you can be proud of, songs that you know came from your heart and mind.
Know beyond any doubt that a song represents your vision and yours alone, one that can never be taken away from you, then sit back and glow in the resultant satisfaction.
AI Music Copyright – FAQ
Do I own my AI-generated music?
The issue of AI-generated music still isn’t covered by copyright laws. Think twice before using AI music in your projects or paying someone for AI music copyright.
Generally speaking, AI music was not created by a human factor, so it can, at least in theory, be considered copyright-free. However, this is still uncharted territory, so our advice is to be very careful when using AI-generated music in your work.
Can you copyright AI-generated music?
The debate surrounding AI music and copyright laws is currently ongoing. While some argue that a license is required because the AI’s output is based on preexisting musical works, others maintain that using such data falls under the “fair use” exception in copyright law.
However, advocates for AI claim that the resulting works are transformative, meaning they do not create substantially similar works and have no impact on the market for the original musical work.
Our advice is to wait until AI-generated music is covered by copyright laws before using it in your professional work.
If you are interested in audio production, please check out my books, Audio Mastering in a Project Studio: A Practical Approach for a Professional Sound and Template Mixing and Mastering.