Music Leaders Urge Culture Secretary To Ensure AI Firms Do Not Crush Human Creativity

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is urging Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to ensure Artificial Intelligence firms do not “crush the human creativity which is the beating heart and soul of our world-leading music industry."

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12.07.2023: UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is urging Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to ensure artificial intelligence (AI) firms do not “crush the human creativity which is the beating heart and soul of our world-leading music industry.” 

In a letter to the Cabinet Minister, Jamie welcomes the benefits of AI to music and other sectors. However, he warns the rapid advance of AI poses many “difficult questions” which the Government must urgently address.

His intervention comes amid mounting concern about the potentially devastating impact that AI could have on human creativity and the talent pipeline which produces the UK’s diverse array of musicians, writers, performers and other music professionals.

One recent example saw AI used to clone the voices of Drake and The Weeknd for a new song after the software was “trained” on the musicians’ voices. The incident reflects a growing trend that has seen music used to train AI technologies without any regard to copyright rules and without seeking the consent of the human music-makers who lose out financially.

As the collective voice of the UK music industry, the letter from UK Music’s Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin outlines a five-point plan which UK Music and its members are calling on the Government to support as ministers consider potential legislation around AI.

The five key principles are contained in a policy paper that UK Music and its members have drawn up for the Government.

In his letter to the Culture Secretary, UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin says:

“As an industry, we are excited about some of the opportunities that AI offer, and want to work with the technology sector to help seize these opportunities. However, it is not acceptable for creators’ work or their identity to be used by AI developers without their consent. 

“Taking other people’s work without their permission contravenes basic principles of property rights, undermining both creator incomes and the economic model which has enabled the UK to build a world-leading music industry.

“It is important to stress that the music industry has good relations with technology sector and we are proud of the many positive relationships and partnerships we have built with technology companies. 

“But in trying to seize the opportunities of AI, it’s vital that we do not allow some AI firms to crush the human creativity which is the beating heart and soul of our world-leading music industry.

“Without original content to ingest, it would not be possible to produce AI-generated content. So it is absolutely critical we develop AI technologies in a way that enhances and enables human artistry rather than eroding it.

“I strongly welcome the Government’s identification of the creative industries as one of the five key growth sectors for the UK. As we look to unlock the potential of the creative industries, we must ensure the music industry and the tech sector grow in partnership, and the right guardrails are in place as we develop our AI sector. 

“Our position paper sets out the principles we believe must be enshrined by Government in order to achieve that.

“I would be delighted to discuss this further with you or your officials, and look forward to working with you to ensure the development of AI is a benefit rather than a barrier to our fantastic music industry.”

The five key principles that UK Music believes the Government should adopt when approaching the issue of AI regulation are: 

  1. Creators’ choice. The creator, or their chosen rights holder, should be able to decide if and how they want to use their creative talent. This certainty underpinned by legal rights (copyright) should not be undermined by any exception to copyright or compulsory licensing during the input stage. Users need to respect creators’ choice as baseline for any discussions.
  2. Record keeping. It is important that in the input stage, the tech providers keep an auditable record of the music ingested before the algorithm generates new music. This is the only point in the process when these data points can be documented.
  3. Without human creativity there should be no copyright.
  4. Labelling. Music generated by AI should be labelled as such.
  5. Protection of personality rights. A new personality right should be created to protect the personality/image of songwriters and artists.

The policy paper can be read here.

The letter to the DCMS Secretary of State can be read here.

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