UK Music campaigns on behalf of the music industry to ensure emerging technology is supportive of the creative industries and that the music industry is at the forefront of innovation.

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UK Music campaigns on behalf of the music industry to ensure emerging technology is supportive of the creative industries and that the music industry is at the forefront of innovation.

UK music is part of the Creative Tech (CreaTech) boom, with the expansion of virtual reality (VR), collaborative Web 3.0 technology and artificial intelligence, with the UK creative tech sector attracting the third highest amount of foreign venture capital investment behind the US and China. (TechNation 2021).

Artificial Intelligence

The accelerating development and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) tools brings opportunities and challenges for the music sector. We are a highly innovative industry that readily embraces emerging technologies. As an assistive tool, songwriters, producers, and artists use AI to aid the creative process and provide analytics on fan engagement and audience behaviour.

Moreover, at an industry level, music publishers and record companies are using AI to detect copyright infringement and predict consumer trends.

However, we must ensure that AI continues to enable human creativity rather than erode it.

Many generative AI systems are being developed without regard to the rights of others and without the consent of the original music makers or rightsholders. Protections provided by IP law are a crucial incentive for human artistry, so policymakers must protect creators’ and rightsholders’ freedoms to choose how their works are used.

In addition, AI’s implications transcend national boundaries, and the UK should therefore work to ensure international cooperation. Such action will allow the UK’s AI and music industries to thrive in tandem.

Text and Data Mining

One key challenge has been the potential threat posed by a plan that would allow technology firms to data mine the music of UK creators. 

This threat emerged in the summer of 2022 following the publication of the Government’s response to its consultation, Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: Copyright and Patents

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) proposed the introduction of a new copyright exception, which would allow the mining of text and data for any purpose, including copying music without permission, and without the option for writers and artists to opt out.

The proposal triggered fierce opposition right across the UK music industry, and the wider cultural industries.

UK Music believes the proposal would allow third parties to copy creative works, including music, for data mining purposes, without the need to ask creators and rightsholders for permission.

Not only does the plan remove any opportunity for creators to get compensation for their creativity and talent, creators would also be unable to prevent any abuse of their work by a computer programme.

UK Music called on the Government to reject the plan ahead of any proposed legislation.

In July 2022, we sent a letter to the Culture Secretary warning about the potential impact of the plans, which can be read here. 

In February 2023 Sarah Olney MP held a Westminster Hall debate on the potential impact of artificial intelligence on intellectual property rights for creative workers, at which Minister for IP George Freeman said that the proposals would not be taken forward and that further more in-depth discussion would take place. Read more here.

Over the summer of 2023 the Intellectual Property Office has been holding roundtables with the creative industries and AI companies to discussion the key issues.

Encouraging Responsible AI

As the collective voice of the UK music industry, UK Music has outlined a five-point plan that UK Music and its members are calling on the Government to support as ministers consider potential legislation around AI.

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.

More information on the key principles can be found here.

The Government should:

Ensure AI-Generated Music Is Identifiable, Either Through Labelling Or Within The Metadata, To Distinguish It From Human Created Works

Labelling AI generated products as such allows human creators to be properly recognised for their intellectual contributions and helps protect them from unauthorised exploitation. Labelling also protects consumers from misleading representations of what is or is not AI-generated.

Commit To Respecting Creators’ And Rightsholders’ Choice By Ruling Out Any New Copyright Exceptions Or Extensions To Existing Ones

In early 2023, the Government rowed back on plans to allow AI developers to use copyright protected works without the permission of creators and rightsholders. These failed plans highlight the need for policymakers to engage more effectively with the creative industries on AI-related issues and to ensure damaging copyright exceptions remain off the table.

Require Those Using Music As Part Of The AI Training Process To Maintain Records Of Trained And Ingested Works

Maintaining records of music ingested by AI applications is vital, especially when determining the consent of the original creators and rightsholders. There is currently no legal requirement to disclose the material AI systems are trained on. Requirements for record keeping and disclosure are included in regulatory AI proposals across the world, notably in the EU and China. The UK must avoid being an outlier on this issue.

Introduce Personality/Image Rights Into The UK legal Framework

AI can mimic human creativity, as evidenced by recent examples of music that unlawfully replicated the voices of Drake and Eminem. This technology can easily be abused for misappropriation or false endorsement, potentially inflicting damage on the reputation of artists, songwriters and rightsholders. The absence of a specific personality right in UK law means there are currently limited protections for creators in this space.

If you would like to read more about our asks to Government read our Manifesto for Music.