Artists deserve ‘justice and control’ over the use of AI, says SoundExchange CEO

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Anyone who watched OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s testimony before a Senate panel on Tuesday suddenly got wind of the Washington, DC-based nonprofit. Sound Exchangea music technology organization founded 20 years ago to collect royalties from digital music platforms and distribute them to music creators.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) repeatedly questioned Altman about how songwriters and music artists should be compensated when their works are used by AI companies. He told Altman that the Nashville music community “should be able to decide if their copyrighted songs and images are to be used to train these models,” and asked if he was in favor of something like SoundExchange for the collection and distribution of money to compensate artists. .

While Altman said he had “never heard of” SoundExchange, he agreed that “content creators should benefit from this technology.”

Michael Huppe, president and CEO of SoundExchange, and an adjunct professor of music law at Georgetown University, told VentureBeat that he was “gratified” by Blackburn’s comments, given the fast-moving landscape in which a song created by AI sounding like Drake and The Weeknd can go viral; grimes can launch a platform where anyone can use their voice to create AI-generated songs; and Timbalandia can use AI to release a song with the long-deceased Notorious BIG


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“I want to applaud Senator Blackburn for having the foresight to recognize that we have to find a way to allow the creative class to properly participate in this regime,” Huppe told VentureBeat. “AI is not going away. So I was pleased to see Senator Blackburn targeting the creative class: the need to compensate them, the need to protect their work.”

Not just about the artists, even the NFL is concerned.

How AI development affects creative workers is not just about the music industry, Huppe stressed. He pointed to the March launch of the human art Bell, a set of principles outlining the responsible use of AI to “support human creativity and achievement with respect to the inimitable value of human art and expression.” The campaign, he said, has been joined by more than 100 organizations representing songwriters, musicians, authors, literary agents, publishers, voice actors and photographers, as well as non-arts entities such as sports organizations, including the Baseball Players Association of Major League Baseball and the NFL Players Association.

Why sports? “Many players benefit from their name, image and likeness,” Huppe said. “So it’s not just about copyright when we talk about what happens [with AI]. It is also the way that generative AI, whether it is text, images, audio or video, can capitalize on those who have developed their brand and personality. You have someone else trying to capitalize on that without permission.”

Creative class “making more noise” on AI

The bottom line, Huppe said, is that how AI uses the creators’ work should be their choice. “This is about fairness and control, so that these things cannot be taken away from the creative class.”

Huppe noted that there is already a nascent market developing of people licensing their work for AI, such as OpenAI licensing images from Shutterstock to train their models. “You can imagine a world where that starts to become the norm,” he said, “where there is an organized licensing structure and ethical AI companies can know what is allowed to be scraped and what is prohibited… and where they share part of their Profits. with the creative community.”

With other industries pulling back on generative AI, including litigation presented by visual artists, amazing Hollywood writers and unionize journalists, and celebrities like Justin batman and Sting Speaking, Huppe said the creative class “is getting stronger as we speak.”

Music, he said, has often been like “the marines on the beach” when it comes to dealing with new technologies that ultimately affect all industries: “There is hardly any industry that is not at risk of being really affected by the generative AI. It’s on everyone’s mind.”

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