ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, POPULAR MUSIC, AND COPYRIGHT LAW: A PERSPECTIVE
We are on the edge of a new phase of popular music production, and by extension, a new phase of music consumption and processing made possible by artificial intelligence. The questions surrounding the aura in the age of mechanical reproduction have become heightened, authorial meaning convoluted by the creation of content based on various AI and algorithmic production techniques. The longstanding practice of defining creativity as something innately human is challenged by new technologies. While the questions over intellectual ownership, authorship, and anthropocentric notions of creativity run throughout the myriad forms of creative expression that have been impacted by artificial intelligence, in this paper I explore the new human-computer collaborations in popular music made possible by recent developments in the use of Markov models and other machine learning strategies for music production, and provide a speculative overview for challenges that may be faced in regards to copyright law.
By drawing attention to the algorithmic or statistical process of music production, it lays bare the ways in which authors are not singular entities, or “genius figures,” but synthesizers and translators of all that one has heard before, often filtered through collaborations, inspiration, and the like. AI collaboration takes Roland Barthes’ theory of the death of the author to its logical conclusions through the act of deliberately identifying the corpus necessary for production thereby automating the process of musical socialization that requires years of experience in a human body. This paper therefore provides suggestions for how copyright law might adapt to the AI age, in ways that both support creativity and protect intellectual property.
Melissa Avdeeff is an Assistant Professor of Communications, Culture, & Media at Coventry University. Her PhD dissertation at the University of Edinburgh examined iPod culture and eclecticism of musical tastes, and the impacts on identity formation, and technologically-mediated sociability. Recently, she’s published book chapters on: Beyoncé’s Instagram use and presentation of self; the critical reception of the Twilight Saga soundtracks and trivialization of girl fandom; Beyoncé’s ‘7/11’ and the importance of the YouTube reaction videos in the evolution of girl/bedroom culture; and artificial intelligence popular music as a form of audio uncanny valley through a case study of SKYGGE’s Hello World.