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New Federal Bill Could Require Disclosure of Songs Used in AI Training

By Michael Apr 9, 2024

Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced new legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday (April 9) which, if passed, would require AI companies to disclose which copyrighted works were used to train their models, or face a financial penalty. Called the Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act, the new bill would apply to both new models and retroactively to previously released and used generative AI systems.

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The bill requires that a full list of copyrighted works in an AI model’s training data set be filed with the Copyright Office no later than 30 days before the model becomes available to consumers. This would also be required when the training data set for an existing model is altered in a significant manner. Financial penalties for non-compliance would be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Copyright Office, based on factors like the company’s history of noncompliance and the company’s size.

Generative AI models are trained on up to trillions of existing works. In some cases, data sets, which can include anything from film scripts to news articles to music, are licensed from copyright owners, but often these models will scrape the internet for large swaths of content, some of which is copyrighted, without the consent or knowledge of the author. Many of the world’s largest AI companies have publicly defended this practice, calling it “fair use,” but many of those working in creative industries take the position that this is a form of widespread copyright infringement.

The debate has sparked a number of lawsuits between copyright owners and AI companies. In October, Universal Music Group, ABKCO, Concord Music Group, and other music publishers filed a lawsuit against AI giant Anthropic for “unlawfully” exploiting their copyrighted song lyrics to train AI models.

“In the process of building and operating AI models, Anthropic unlawfully copies and disseminates vast amounts of copyrighted works,” wrote lawyers for the music companies at the time. “Publishers embrace innovation and recognize the great promise of AI when used ethically and responsibly. But Anthropic violates these principles on a systematic and widespread basis.”

While many in the music business are also calling for compensation and the ability to opt in or out of being used in a data set, this bill focuses only on requiring transparency with copyrighted training data. Still, it has garnered support from many music industry groups, including the Recorded Industry Association of America (RIAA), National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), ASCAP, Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), and Human Artistry Campaign.

It is also supported by other creative industry groups, including the Professional Photographers of America, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and more.

“AI has the disruptive potential of changing our economy, our political system, and our day-to-day lives,” said Rep. Schiff in a statement. “We must balance the immense potential of AI with the crucial need for ethical guidelines and protections. My Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act is a pivotal step in this direction. It champions innovation while safeguarding the rights and contributions of creators, ensuring they are aware when their work contributes to AI training datasets. This is about respecting creativity in the age of AI and marrying technological progress with fairness.”

A number of rights groups also weighed in on the introduction of the bill.

“Any effective regulatory regime for AI must start with one of the most fundamental building blocks of effective enforcement of creators’ rights — comprehensive and transparent record keeping,” adds RIAA chief legal officer Ken Doroshow. “RIAA applauds Congressman Schiff for leading on this urgent and foundational issue.”

“We commend Congressman Schiff for his leadership on the Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act,” NMPA president/CEO David Israelite said. “AI only works because it mines the work of millions of creators every day and it is essential that AI companies reveal exactly what works are training their data. This is a critical first step towards ensuring that AI companies fully license and that songwriters are fully compensated for the work being used to fuel these platforms.”

“Without transparency around the use of copyrighted works in training artificial intelligence, creators will never be fairly compensated and AI tech companies will continue stealing from songwriters,” ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said. “This bill is an important step toward ensuring that the law puts humans first, and we thank Congressman Schiff for his leadership.”

“Protecting the work of music creators is essential, and this all begins with transparency and tracking the use of copyrighted materials in generative AI,” Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) co-chair Willie “Prophet” Stiggers said. “BMAC hopes Rep. Schiff’s Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act helps garner support for this mission and that author and creator rights continue to be protected and preserved.”

“Congressman Schiff’s proposal is a big step forward towards responsible AI that partners with artists and creators instead of exploiting them,” Human Artistry Campaign senior advisor Dr. Moiya McTier said. “AI companies should stop hiding the ball when they copy creative works into AI systems and embrace clear rules of the road for recordkeeping that create a level and transparent playing field for the development and licensing of genuinely innovative applications and tools.”

By Michael

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