Hagerty Urges U.S. Copyright Office to Protect Artists and Songwriters’ Material as Artificial Intelligence Advances

May 11, 2023

Highlights importance of music industry in Tennessee

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Rules Committee, yesterday at an oversight hearing questioned Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, who oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, on protecting the copyrighted material of artists and songwriters as Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to advance rapidly and create novel issues in the music industry. Hagerty noted the issue’s particular importance to his home state of Tennessee, which serves as a hub for performing artists and musicians.

“While Artificial Intelligence offers many promising benefits, its increasing prevalence doesn’t come without certain drawbacks. Tennessee is home to so many performing artists and songwriters who have the potential to be greatly impacted by Artificial Intelligence. And I’m sure you’re aware, last month Artificial Intelligence was used to clone the voices of two artists, Drake and The Weeknd, and it was used to produce a song that went viral on social media,” Hagerty said.

When asked by Hagerty how the Copyright Office plans to protect the copyrighted works and voices of performing artists, Dr. Hayden shared the Office’s awareness of AI’s impact and the actions it is taking. “[The Copyright Office is] now rejecting claims to copyright protection for works or portions of works generated by AI—and that’s on the grounds that copyright requires human authorship. They also have the impact of AI on the broader system, and they are working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as well regarding these initiatives. It’s something that they’re keenly aware of, and the Register of Copyrights, Shira Perlmutter, is very involved,” Dr. Hayden responded. “We understand that the current copyright law requires human authorship, and the level is what is also of concern.” “My hope is, Dr. Hayden, that you’ll continue to maintain your attention to this important matter… And I’d like to point out that it isn’t an issue that narrowly applies to the music industry. Indeed, I think it represents a much larger and more complex set of issues that we’re going to have to address as a nation when we deal with Artificial Intelligence and as it proliferates across every aspect of our culture, society, or economy… I think that you have an incredibly important role to play and an important leadership role to play that affects my state and an industry that’s very important,” Hagerty concluded.

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