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Artists Ask for Protection Against AI

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High Profile Artists Ask Protection AI - iMusician

Over 200 high-profile musicians have signed an open letter demanding that tech companies pledge not to develop AI tools that can replace human songwriters and artists.

An open letter to halt the development of harmful AI technologies

The letter was issued by the Artist Rights Alliance advocacy group, a non-profit organization run by music industry veterans, including Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash. The organization has gathered signatures from artists spanning various musical genres and eras, from REM and Stevie Wonder to Nicki Minaj and Billie Eilish. The estates of legendary artists Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley have also signed the document.

The musician community urgently asks for protection against the “predatory use of AI to steal professional artists’ voices and likenesses, violate creators’ rights, and destroy the music ecosystem.” Such protection should be achieved by requiring tech companies to stop developing AI tools that undermine or completely replace human creatives.

The letter doesn’t call for an outright ban on the use of AI tools in music creation or production, claiming that responsible use of such technology can, in fact, benefit the music industry. One good example of a beneficial use of AI technology in music is the isolation of John Lennon’s vocals from an old demo track and their use in creating a new Beatles song that came out last year. Without the power of AI, this wouldn’t have been possible.

The use and expansion of AI technology into every field of the music industry (and the entertainment industries, in general) was the subject of many concerns throughout 2023. It was also the center of several contract negotiations and, more importantly, the extensive entertainment union strikes. Countless deep fake videos have been emerging, pornographic AI-made images of celebrities have been spreading across the internet, and songs with AI-generated vocals of famous artists have been flooding the music world.

Not too long ago, Tennessee became the first US-American state to enact legislation to protect musicians from having their “vocal likeness” generated by AI for commercial purposes. The so-called ‘Elvis Act’ goes into effect on July 1st this year and will make it illegal to replicate and use artists’ voices without their consent.

Several artists have previously spoken out against the pervasive use of AI in music. Famously, the Australian singer Nick Cave has criticized lyrics generated by ChatGPT as “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human.” The publication of the open letter could propel the conversation to new heights and further increase awareness of AI-related issues. However, we have yet to wait for the response from tech companies to fully gauge the situation.

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