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Ai in Music: IMPF Proposes Ethical Guidelines for Developers

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The International Forum for Independent Music Publishers (IMPF) published and suggested a set of ethical guidelines concerning AI. It seeks to promote a more transparent and collaborative relationship between creatives and tech companies developing AI applications.

Ethical guidelines

AI within music is a highly controversial topic. The ongoing discussions and developments raise much excitement and concern among industry professionals and artists alike. While some appreciate the new tools and actively use them, others question them on an ethical level, arguing that they have the potential to disrupt the industry in ways that do not benefit artists.

Within the scope of the current discourse, the Independent Music Publishers International Forum (IMPF) decided to publish and propose a set of ethical guidelines. According to the official press release, it aims to “foster a more transparent and collaborative relationship between creatives (in IMPF’s case, songwriters, and music publishers) and tech companies developing AI applications.”

The guideline consists of four principles listed in the press release:

  1. All interested parties in the field of AI application should comply with the basic tenets of intellectual property and copyright law.

  2. Records should be kept of musical and/or literary works used in the machine learning process.

  3. There should be clear differentiation and demarcation between human-created and AI-generated musical works.

  4. Furthermore, there should be a delineation between assistive AI and fully generative AI applications.

Making AI more ethical

The many concerns on AI and its future can make it challenging for artists to decide if and how they want to make use of the new tools. AI, however, does not always have to be “bad”. Musicians can use it for marketing purposes, mastering, inspiration, or research, and therefore save a lot of valuable time.

IMPF President Annette Barrett explains:

“There has been much debate - and indeed often panic - about the rapid development of artificial intelligence and the implications it has for the creative industries. But the technology is here to stay, and it will only get more sophisticated. In many cases it will actually enhance our work and lives.

We should not fight these advancements, but it would be negligent to give tech developers free reign when it comes to the use of artistic human work - which carries its own irrefutable, intrinsic value - to enable machine learning.”

For this reason, it is the responsibility of developers and artists alike to create a conducive, fair, and ethical environment. One example of how companies respond to the challenges is a recent announcement by TikTok. In the future, the platform will begin labeling and detecting AI-generated content to create more transparency and prevent the potential spread of misinformation.

Musicians can navigate this new reality by first and foremost figuring out how they feel about AI and then deciding what they want to make out of it. The most important aspect, however, is to remain transparent about one’s usage of AI and not use other people’s voices without their consent.

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