Bon Jovi, Billy Eilish, other musicians implore AI devs to think of humanity

Using copyrighted material to train models affects artists' livelihoods, says open letter

The Artist Rights Alliance has launched a petition to end the use of AI that infringes upon or devalues the work of humans.

The lobby group of working musicians, performers, and songwriters has gathered signatories from the estates of Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley, multi-platinum singer songwriter Billie Eilish, rocker Jon Bon Jovi, pop singer Katy Perry, and soul pioneer Stevie Wonder.

In a statement, the group said: "Some of the biggest and most powerful companies are, without permission, using our work to train AI models. These efforts are directly aimed at replacing the work of human artists with massive quantities of AI-created 'sounds' and 'images' that substantially dilute the royalty pools that are paid out to artists."

"When AI is used irresponsibly, AI poses a threat to our ability to protect our privacy, our identities, our music, and our livelihoods," the statement added.

The genie is already out of the bottle in terms of AI impersonations of established artists. For example, YouTube hosts a fake Frank Sinatra singing Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise, an ersatz Johnny Cash singing Barbie Girl, and a phony Simon and Garfunkel singing Baby Got Back, a rap song that advocates for big butts.

The point is that models used to create such content have been trained on copyrighted material, and the artists have no control of how the models may be used to make songs that bear an uncanny resemblance to their work.

It is not only musicians who have been irked by the use of copyrighted material to train AI models only to produce content uncannily similar to their work.

In 2023, a legal case kicked off when novelists Paul Tremblay, Christopher Golden, Richard Kadrey, and comedian Sarah Silverman accused OpenAI of unlawfully scraping their work.

Earlier this year, leaders from media trade associations and academia told the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary that tech companies should compensate news publishers for training AI models on their copyrighted content.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is suing Microsoft and OpenAI, claiming the duo infringed on the newspaper's copyright by using its articles without permission.

Text-to-image AI developers also face lawsuits from creatives whose material was used to train models.

In their defence, developers of AI models have claimed that the way they employ copyrighted material falls under fair use, a legal term that allows people to quote material without infringing copyright.

Microsoft has hit back at the New York Times suit, saying it was based on "doomsday futurology." ®

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