Media executive Thomas Rabe, who runs Bertelsmann, the company that owns the Penguin Random House publishing house, praises the potential of AI for creative expression. A Harvard lawyer said AI copyright laws will likely develop from cases.
The CEO of German media company Bertelsmann argues that artificial intelligence (AI) could augment rather than replace creative expression amid copyright wars.
Thomas Rabe, who runs the firm that owns BMG Music, said AI’s benefits outweigh its threats. While acknowledging the reality of the copyright infringement fights Spotify found itself in the middle of, Rabe said AI is a social tipping point.
In his words, “It can be very positive as long as we keep abreast of and understand its potential and threats.”
The media mogul claimed that the company was examining the legality of generating new content through copyrighted material. He argued from a glass-half-full perspective that AI books of variable quality could increase the value of works from respected sources.
Bertelsmann uses AI to dub his TV show X-Factor. At their recent conference, Google demonstrated the technology to dub English lectures with Arizona State University.
UMG Copyright Controversy
Universal Music Group successfully claimed copyright to an AI-generated song featuring Drake and The Weeknd. Major streaming platforms soon removed the piece, with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek saying the company cooperated with the label:
“[T]he rejection of AI by the copyright industry, or by record labels and media companies, is really [concerned with] issues like ‘name and likeness,’ what is a copyright real, who owns the right to something where you upload something and claim it. make it Drake [when] it really isn’t, and so on. Those are legitimate concerns.”
The song created by TikTok user Ghostwriter977 racked up nine million streams on Spotify, TikTok, and other platforms. Other AI songs involving notable artists include Somebody I Used to Know, featuring Kanye West and Playboi Carti, and Travis Scott and Ariana Grande’s Starboy.
United States AI Copyright Act for Authors
Harvard legal expert Louis Tompros highlighted the importance of defining whether training AI on copyrighted material constitutes infringement. He argued that while copyright law does not punish derivative works that imitate a certain style of art, it remains an open question whether an author can claim the rights to derivative works created by AI. The US Copyright Office recently said that AI cannot be an author.
Google said it is developing metadata and watermarking tools to filter out synthetic content. The watermark will embed strong data into files that will survive “modest” editing. The metadata will identify the context of creation of a work.
It is important to highlight that copyright is a set of rules and principles that regulate the moral and patrimonial rights that the law grants to authors for the sole fact of creating a literary, artistic, musical, scientific, or didactic work, whether published or unpublished.
While Tompros downplayed the chances of amendments to the Copyright Act at the federal level. He said it is up to the courts to create jurisprudence that balances the rights of artists with freedom of expression.
AI can provide opportunities to revive the music of all-time favorite artists; however, it also requires careful consideration of issues such as copyright and creative authenticity. Against this backdrop, artists, fans, and the music industry will have to adapt and find the right balance to make sure technology serves music, not the other way around.
By Audy Castaneda