Empowering AI Development While Protecting Intellectual Property with Blockchain

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April 29, 2024

The Application of AI in the Music Industry

The music industry has adopted an extensive range of AI tools and platforms that cover the full spectrum of the creative process, from initial composition to the final phases of distribution and marketing. These tools and platforms vary in complexity, encompassing everything from basic recommendation systems and assistive AI tools to sophisticated generative AI models. Among the most commonly utilised applications within the industry are text-to-music generators like Suno, automated mixing and mastering solutions such as Roex, and vocal cloning apps like Kits.

The Duality of AI in the Music Industry

Although AI holds promise and has already become a reality for many musicians and artists worldwide, the majority believe the risks outweigh its opportunities. For the music industry to embrace AI, developing a fair, ethical, and sustainable approach that stimulates innovation while safeguarding rightsholders’ IP is crucial.

AI Music Challenges

At the heart of the issue is if and how Generative AI is allowed to use copyrighted content as input for AI model training. Unfortunately, copyright law was not designed for AI, so no clear answer to this question currently exists. Consequently, the industry currently faces four main challenges: preventing copyright infringement and unethical use of IP, identifying AI-generated music, and establishing mechanisms for fair compensation.

  • There are no mechanisms for fair compensation.
    IP rights holders seldom receive compensation when AI-generated music is derived from their IP. Following the “Heart on My Sleeve” case, many others have taken legal action regarding copyright infringement by AI models. Comparable lawsuits involving the legal implications of AI are currently making their way through courtrooms, and this issue is expected to escalate as the utilisation of AI increases.
  • There are no mechanisms to protect IP & prevent copyright infringement.
    AI models analyse large amounts of music data from every corner of the internet. They then discover patterns, learn from this data, and generate new sounds. AI models can thus be trained on an artist’s IP without their consent or authorisation. There needs to be a mechanism to ensure transparency about the type and scope of training data AI providers use as input for their models.
  • There are no mechanisms to identify AI-generated music.
    Whenever an AI model generates an output, no labelling mechanism identifies it as AI-generated content. This means there is yet to be a process or mechanism for distinguishing AI-generated music from human-made music.
  • There are no mechanisms to prevent unethical use.
    As AI-generated music or voice models reach a stage where they are almost indistinguishable from their human counterparts, more ethical considerations emerge regarding unethical use cases, such as spreading hate speech using someone’s voice clone. No mechanisms exist to penalise those who spread unauthorised content using an artist’s voice clone.

AI Licensing through Blockchain

To ensure fair and ethical use of AI music, it is crucial to establish a system that provides efficient and transparent mechanisms for IP ownership, licensing, distribution, and provenance. Blockchain technology can reform how rights are managed, licensed, and compensated, bringing efficiency and clarity to the sector.

The transparent, decentralised, and immutable nature of blockchain, combined with tokenisation, a process of converting the rights of an asset into a digital token on a blockchain, enables musicians and rights holders to establish undisputed digital ownership of their intellectual property. While much of blockchain’s interest revolves around finance, its fundamental purpose is verifying authenticity. This tokenisation process, usually in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), means that all information surrounding the IP is digitally preserved about who created what, who owns what, and where it is used. 

Rights holders can then programme authorisation and usage rights into their tokenised IP. This allows smart contracts to perform certain automated processes, such as transferring ownership, managing royalty distribution, or licensing copyrights for AI model training. 

How Does Blockchain Empower AI while Protecting IP?

When a rights holder chooses to license their tokenised IP for AI model training, blockchain can ensure the traceability and provenance of the process. Since this process is trackable from the moment of IP registration, through AI model training, and ultimately to consumption, rights holders could automatically earn royalties whenever an AI model trains or produces content that includes their IP. Additionally, this process provides both parties with a verified, transparent stamp of legitimacy. An AI output must be trained or generated through the official transparent, blockchain-based process using the rights holder’s tokenised IP, or else it is verified as unauthorised. A transparent tokenised process allows rights holders to consent, control and monetise their IP while companies developing AI models avoid legal disputes. In this way, blockchain technology and tokenisation provide a transparent foundation for establishing fair and ethical ownership, licensing, distribution, and monetisation mechanisms for AI-generated music.

Contributor

Web3 Music Association President and CEO

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