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Anybody who watched OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s testimony earlier than a Senate panel on Tuesday abruptly discovered concerning the Washington, DC-based nonprofit Sound Exchange, a music know-how group based 20 years in the past to gather royalties from digital music platforms and distribute them to music creators.

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) repeatedly grilled Altman over how songwriters and musical artists needs to be compensated when their works are utilized by AI firms. She informed Altman that the Nashville music group “ought to be capable to determine if their copyrighted songs and pictures are going for use to coach these fashions,” and requested him if he favored one thing like SoundExchange for the gathering and distribution of cash to compensate artists.

Whereas Altman mentioned he had “by no means heard” of SoundExchange, he agreed that “content material creators want to profit from this know-how.”

Michael Huppe, president and CEO of SoundExchange, and an adjunct professor in music legislation at Georgetown College, informed VentureBeat he was “gratified” by Blackburn’s feedback, given the fast-moving panorama the place a song created by AI to sound like Drake and The Weeknd can go viral; Grimes can launch a platform the place anybody can use their voice to create AI-generated songs; and Timbaland can use AI to launch a track with the long-deceased Infamous B.I.G.


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“I need to applaud Senator Blackburn for having the foresight to acknowledge we’ve acquired to determine a technique to permit the artistic class to correctly take part on this regime,” Huppe informed VentureBeat. “AI just isn’t going away. So I used to be happy to see Senator Blackburn specializing in the artistic class — the necessity to compensate them, the necessity to shield their work.”

Not nearly artists — even the NFL is anxious

How AI growth impacts artistic staff isn’t just concerning the music business, Huppe emphasised. He pointed to the March launch of the Human Artistry Campaign, a set of rules that define the responsible use of AI to “help human creativity and accomplishment with respect to the inimitable worth of human artistry and expression.” The marketing campaign, he mentioned, has been joined by over 100 organizations representing songwriters, musicians, authors, literary brokers, publishers, voice actors and photographers — in addition to non-artistic entities like sports activities organizations, together with the Main League Baseball Gamers Affiliation and the NFL Gamers Affiliation.

Why sports activities? “Many gamers revenue off their identify, picture and likeness,” mentioned Huppe. “So this isn’t nearly copyright after we discuss what occurs [with AI]. It’s additionally how generative AI — whether or not textual content, pictures, audio or video — can capitalize on those that have constructed up their model and persona. You could have another person attempting to capitalize on that with out permission.”

Inventive class “getting louder” about AI

The underside line, Huppe mentioned, is that how AI makes use of creators’ work needs to be their alternative. “It’s about equity and management, in order that the artistic class can’t simply have this stuff taken away from them.”

Huppe identified that there’s already a nascent market growing of individuals licensing their works for AI, akin to how OpenAI licensed images from Shutterstock to coach its fashions. “You may think about a world the place that begins to be the norm,” he mentioned, “the place there’s an organized licensing construction and moral AI firms can know what’s allowed to be scraped and what’s off-limits … and the place they share a part of their earnings with the artistic group.”

With different industries pushing again on generative AI — together with lawsuits filed by visible artists, striking Hollywood writers and unionizing journalists — and celebrities like Justine Bateman and Sting talking out, Huppe mentioned the artistic class “is getting louder as we converse.”

Music, he mentioned, has typically been like “the marines on the seashore” relating to coping with new applied sciences that finally have an effect on all industries: “There’s nearly no business that doesn’t have the danger of being actually impacted by generative AI. It’s on everyone’s thoughts.”

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