How do we deal with robot songwriters?

A Washington, DC-based non-profit has penned an open letter and is seeking online support for their mandate "advocating for music creators for fair compensation in the digital realm."

Artist Rights Alliance, whose board includes Grammy-winning artist Rosanne Cash and Grammy nominee Tift Merrit, have partnered with Paul Freudlich Associatites (PFA), a NYC-based media and marketing company who represent The Beatles, Aerosmith, James Taylor, the Country Music Association, and others, to support the movement.

As part of their recent work, they have issued a "call on AI developers, technology companies, platforms and digital music services to cease the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists." Further requesting a "pledge that they will not develop or deploy AI music-generation technology, content or tools that undermine or replace the human artistry of songwriters and artists or deny us fair compensation for our work."

The request is signed by a range of 200 recording artists including Canadian artists The Arkells, Colin Linden, and others.

To date, the Canadian Government has worked to address AI as it relates to copyright and the development of new musical works by AI through Bill C-27 and, before it, through the Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. A number of music-focused organizations, including SOCAN and Music Canada (who represent the interests of the three major labels), have submitted a response to the Canadian government (linked below). Music Canada are proposing legislation similar to the process to address sampling in the 80s, where credited works that feed the AI are required to be disclosed as part of the creation of any new works.

In Ottawa, Music Canada's lobby organization, Crestview Strategy, has logged meetings with officials related to Intellectual Property with staff from the Prime Minister's Office, Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED, where the committee leading the discussions on C-27 are taking place), Finance, Global Affairs, and Canadian Heritage. Music Publishers Canada's lobby organization, Compass Rose, has recent discussions on IP with various MPs, the PMO, Finance, Heritage, and ISED. Canadian Independent Music Association President and CEO Andrew Cash has also met with members of ISED, as have members of their lobby org, PAA Advisors. Songwriters Association of Canada lobbyists Global Public Affairs, have also been active with meetings across Heritage and ISED.

The battle against music-generating AI is far from the only consideration contained within the details of Bill C-27. Indeed, there are a wide swath of business interests that have appeared as part of consultations on the matter, including the Canadian Council of Innovators who are effectively calling for a complete re-draft of legislation.

Meanwhile, artist are rightly concerned that their works will drive the generative powers of these AI tools. Without a mechanism to protect the copyright of those original works, these new tools will profit from the creations that do fall under current copyright laws, and the AI tool creators will profit from the user fees they may charge their users to create these "new works."

Music Canada: