The CEO of German media company Bertelsmann argues artificial intelligence (AI) could augment rather than replace creative expression amid copyright wars.
Thomas Rabe, who heads up the firm that owns BMG Music, said AI’s benefits exceed its threats.
While acknowledging the reality of copyright infringement tussles that Spotify found itself in the middle of, Rabe said that AI is a societal inflection point.
“It can be very positive provided we stay on top of it and understand its potential and threats.”
The media mogul affirmed the company was examining the legalities of generating new content through copyrighted material. He argued from the glass-half-full perspective that AI books of varying quality could increase the value of works from respected sources.
Bertelsmann uses AI to dub its X-Factor TV show.
At its recent conference, Google demonstrated the technology to dub English lectures with Arizona State University.
UMG Copyright Controversy
Universal Music Group successfully claimed copyright on an AI-generated song featuring Drake and The Weeknd. Major streaming platforms soon removed the piece, with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek saying the firm cooperated with the label.
“[T]he AI pushback from the copyright industry, or labels and media companies, is really [concerned with] issues like ‘name and likeness’, what is an actual copyright, who owns the right to something where you upload something and claim it to be Drake [when] it’s really not, 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, with Kanye West and Playboi Carti, and Starboy by Travis Scott and Ariana Grande.
U.S. AI Copyright Law for Authors
Harvard law expert Louis Tompros said it is important first to define whether training AI with copyrighted material constitutes infringement.
He argued that while copyright law does not punish derivative works mimicking a certain style of art, it remains an open question whether an author can claim the rights to derivative works created by AI.
The U.S. Copyright Office recently said that AI cannot be an author.
Google said it is developing watermarking and metadata tools to filter synthetic content. Watermarking will embed resilient data in files that will survive “modest” editing. Metadata will identify the context of a work’s creation.
While Tompros downplayed the chances of amendments to the Copyright Act at a federal level, he said it is up to courts to create case law that balances artists’ rights with freedom of speech.
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