SOCAN Urges Government to Adopt Principles that Respect Music Creators when Regulating AI – SOCAN

SOCAN Urges Government to Adopt Principles that Respect Music Creators when Regulating AI

Thursday, December 14, 2023

SOCAN, Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada, along with a coalition of music organizations, today wrote to the Government of Canada concerning the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the music industry. The letter provided recommendations that aimed to ensure AI does not replace human creativity and culture.

“This letter is the first step in setting important principles for the Government of Canada to consider as they explore the regulatory and copyright policy framework that will apply to AI systems while respecting creators and human expression,” said Jennifer Brown, SOCAN CEO.

While the letter, addressed to Minister St-Onge and Minister Champagne, recognized AI’s potential to support and enhance the valuable work of human creators, it emphasized the importance of preserving the balance and policy goals of the Copyright Act. This entails fostering and rewarding human creativity and enabling creators and their representatives to control how their works are used, by whom, and on what terms.

The letter outlines three specific concerns about the impact of AI on the music industry:

1) pre-existing creative works that are being exploited by AI models without consent from or compensation for rightsholders;

2) the risk AI systems pose to the livelihood of human creators; and

3) the risk of AI systems being used to imitate creators’ voices and likeness without their knowledge or consent.

SOCAN and the other signatories recommend that the Canadian Government adopt the following set of principles as part of any AI regulatory or policy framework:

  • Protect human expression: Copyright is designed to protect and reward the value of human expression. Any proposal that weakens or conflicts with this objective should be rejected.
  • No new copyright exceptions: There should be no new copyright exceptions that would permit AI developers to use creators’ works without permission to develop AI models.
  • Transparency: AI developers must be transparent about the specific works exploited by an AI model and how the works were sourced and used. Creators must be able to identify whether their works have been used.
  • AI Labelling: Canadians should know whether they are listening to music created by a human or generated by AI. Developers of AI models should be required to implement a method to identify or detect AI-generated content, and the music industry should be encouraged to adopt a labelling standard to identify AI-generated music. That standard could build on existing identifiers, such as explicit content labels.
  • Licensing: AI developers must obtain permission from creators or their representatives before using their intellectual property or personality rights, including their voices and likeness.

“We believe the principles outlined in our letter to Minister St-Onge and Minister Champagne set the foundation for an effective process for AI that will protect music creators by respecting the value of their extraordinary work. We hope our efforts will be considered to ensure the AI model can continue to evolve and grow responsibly,” added Brown.

SOCAN is also participating in the open consultation ending on January 15, 2024, on the implications of generative AI and copyright held by Canadian Heritage and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

On behalf of its more than 185,000 members, SOCAN thanks Minister St-Onge and Minister Champagne for their attention on this matter.