DiMA USCO AI and Copyright Music and Sound Recordings Opening Statement - 2023

May 31, 2023

Opening Statement by Garrett Levin, President and CEO, Digital Media Association (DiMA) at the USCO Listening Session: AI and Copyright – Music & Sound Recordings: 

Thank you Register Perlmutter and the entire US Copyright Office team for inviting me to speak at this listening session and for your steadfast engagement on this important issue. My name is Garrett Levin, and I am the President and CEO of the Digital Media Association (DiMA) the trade association that represents the world’s leading audio streaming services.  

Emerging technologies have historically improved the creation, distribution, and consumption of music.  AI is a rapidly evolving technology with similar abilities to assist creators (including professional human musicians and songwriters) and improve the way music is created, distributed and consumed.  

Music has long been at the forefront of potentially disruptive and new technology, and the development of new technology has often been met with initial concern by many in the music industry. However, the success of today’s streaming-driven music industry is definitive proof that music and technology can, should, and most often do, learn to work together and enrich our musical traditions.  

AI is not one size fits all.  Current discussions around AI lack grounding definitions, including the lines between generative and assistive AI.  The entire music industry will benefit from establishing a common set of facts in the discussion, and/or focusing questions around specific technologies.  Similarly, policymakers benefit from shared substantive expertise about AI technologies, evolving trends, and the potential effects on artistic expression, innovation, and commercial markets before proposing changes. We hope that the Office’s series of listening sessions reflects the start of that kind of analysis and DiMA members are willing to assist the government in pursuing an evidence-based path. 

We will no doubt dig further into some of the specifics during our discussion today, but at a high level DiMA members believe that existing U.S. copyright laws, including (1) copyrightability (including originality, de minimis contributions, scenes a faire, and the idea/expression dichotomy); (2) infringement (including questions of unlawful appropriation, substantial similarity, and causation); and (3) the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as well laws outside of copyright to protect one’s name, likeness, and the right of publicity, are sufficient to address creations made with or by AI technology.  Different legal doctrines can and should be employed to consider questions arising from AI-generated music, but copyright law should not be stretched or changed to address questions that more properly arise under laws relating to trademark, right of publicity, or unfair competition.  

One final note in this introductory statement on data, a topic on which DiMA members have extensive experience. Music streaming services should not be – and cannot be – the arbiters as to what is or is not AI-generated. It is not possible with the existing data, and any new data must come from the copyright owners and creators. Data accountability must exist throughout the chain from creation to distribution. There have long been data challenges in the music space, including with ensuring that accurate and complete metadata identifiers are included in recordings at the time of distribution. These challenges existed before streaming, continue to exist and are highly relevant to discussions of the treatment of AI-generated music. 

Thank you again and I look forward to the discussion.