UK Music Chief Urges Prime Minister Rishi Sunak To Use AI Safety Summit To Protect Music Creators And Sector’s “Fragile” Talent Pipeline 

UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl has written to Rishi Sunak to urge the Prime Minister to use his AI Safety Summit this week to protect music creators and the sector’s “fragile” talent pipeline.  

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31.10.2023: UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl has written to Rishi Sunak to urge the Prime Minister to use his AI Safety Summit this week to protect music creators and the sector’s “fragile” talent pipeline.  

Ahead of the PM’s two-day global summit, which begins on November 1 at Bletchley Park, Mr Kiehl outlined the music industry’s concerns about the potential impact that the rapid advance of AI could have on the UK’s world-leading music sector.  

His intervention follows warnings from UK Music, the collective voice of the UK music industry, of the risk that AI firms take part in “music laundering” – ripping off music creators by using their creative talents without payment or getting their consent to use it. 

In a speech last Thursday (November 26) ahead of the summit, PM Rishi Sunak insisted that when it came to AI that “the UK’s answer is not to rush to regulate”. 

However, the UK music industry is united in ensuring the PM understands the vital importance of protecting human creativity, the jobs of music creators and the talent pipeline on which the sector relies to create the stars and music professionals of the future.  

In his letter (here), Mr Kiehl spells out how protecting copyright and ensuring AI firms have consent to use music creators’ copyright-protected work must be at the heart of Government plans to provide proper guard rails to prevent AI from damaging the creative industries.  

UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl said:  

“We note the impact of AI on the UK music industry – despite the multi-billion-pound annual contribution to the UK economy by our sector, which provides jobs for over 200,000 people – is not explicitly on the agenda at this summit.

“Given the significant cultural influence of music and artists on the public, our concerns are not purely limited to economic and creative impacts. Our issues overlap with how society safeguards democratic freedom, as well protects against the spread of misinformation and consumer harm.

“We kindly ask you to ensure any outcomes from the summit and future discussions align with policy solutions to address our music industry’s concerns regarding the future regulatory landscape for AI.

“While we understand the need to look at the coming opportunities and threats that AI poses, there is an urgent need to address the clear and present threat that generative AI poses to the creative industries and to our members’ livelihoods.”

In his letter to the PM, Mr Kiehl outlined the importance of the Government upholding two key principles of consent and transparency at a domestic and international level.  

On the issue of consent, Mr Kiehl said:

“Machine learning involves numerous rights, including copyright, which in most countries are not subject to an exception that restricts creators and rightsholders’ abilities to exercise their rights.

“As a general principle, the use of music during the ingestion process (in the past, present and future) should always require permission from the creator and the rightsholder.

“Failure to ensure this basic human right will jeopardise thousands of UK jobs and threaten the fragile talent pipeline on which the music industry relies to nurture the music professionals who are the envy of the world.”

On the issue of transparency, Mr Kiehl explained the vital importance of record keeping and labelling. He said:

“AI platform providers need to keep an auditable record of the music used to train the machine before the algorithm can generate new music. This is the only point in the process when these data points can be duly documented.

“Music generated by AI should be labelled as such to protect the consumer from confusion. Consumers need to be able to make an informed decision before acquiring goods or services.

“It is vital for consumers, artists, and commercial businesses alike for AI platform providers to operate in compliance with the transparency principle.”

Concluding his letter to the PM, Mr Kiehl said: “We wish you a successful outcome to the Summit and look forward to working with you closely on these important issues to protect and grow our world-leading music industry.”

 UK Music and its members continue to hold talks with the Government, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and other stakeholders about the potential impact of AI on the sector.  

Read the full letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak here. 

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