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From protecting artists to helping creators use their work (legally) - WR #184
Weekly Roundups
October 20, 2023

From protecting artists to helping creators use their work (legally) - WR #184

This week has been an interesting one for sure. We’ve been looking at a few thoughts about the state of the creator economy and major moves regarding AI and rights protection. Let’s see what we have in store for this week.

#1. Universal, Concord and ABKCO against Anthropic

And not by anyone; Universal Music Group, Concord Music Group, and ABKCO are suing the Amazon solution Anthropic AI over copyright infringement.

Anthropic AI, known for its AI safety and research, recently received a multi-billion dollar investment from Amazon. The lawsuit alleges that Anthropic's AI unlawfully copies and disseminates copyrighted song lyrics, violating US copyright law. The suit claims that Anthropic scrapes and uses vast amounts of text from the internet, including lyrics to numerous musical compositions, without seeking permission from publishers. This legal battle could have significant implications for the relationship between music Rights Holders and AI tech companies.

The lawsuit highlights concerns about Anthropic's AI generating copyrighted lyrics without specific requests. The music companies involved are requesting a jury trial and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work. In total, they are seeking at least $75 million for copyright infringement. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks up to $25 000 in statutory damages per violation, or at the publishers' discretion, actual damages and Anthropic's profits. This legal action underscores the ongoing challenges in balancing AI innovation with copyright protection in the music industry.

#2. Universal is taking another step towards creators

Staying within the Universal universe: Universal Production Music has introduced a new subscription music licensing service called "Universal Music for Creators." This service provides content creators with access to a vast library of claim-free music and sound effects for use in online videos. Starting at $5.99 per month, subscribers gain unlimited access to over 50 000 tracks and 200 000 sound effects. No further royalties are owed for the use of the tracks, making it a game-changer for content creators.

This is the first program from a major music publisher that offers pre-cleared tracks, allowing creators to add music and sound effects to videos and podcasts without worrying about copyright claims. This move by Universal presents a significant competitor to existing royalty-free music platforms, offering an affordable solution for content creators and reinforcing Universal's commitment to artist-driven initiatives in audio products and services.

#3. SACEM is working on data mining and machine learning

SACEM, the French Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers of Music, is demanding prior authorization for AI data mining and machine learning involving its music catalogs. This comes after SACEM opted out of a data mining exception provided by European law. While SACEM acknowledges the potential opportunities that artificial intelligence offers for music creators, the organization aims to strike a balance between creator and publisher rights and the aspirations of the AI industry.

SACEM CEO Cécile Rap-Veber emphasizes that the goal is not to hinder AI development but to make it more transparent and virtuous, ensuring that creative works are not used to enrich AI tools without the creators' consent. The music industry has been advocating for technology companies to obtain permission from copyright holders for training AI models, and opting out of exceptions like the EU's provides greater control over the legal use of content.

#4. The creator economy needs a shift

According to MIDiA Research, the music industry has transformed into a "just-in-time" model, mirroring the modern economy's dynamics. Artists are now expected to continually produce and release content. This shift from the old days of albums released every few years to an "always-on" artist culture is driven by the fear that algorithms may forget artists if they don't maintain a constant flow of releases and social media engagement. This system benefits platforms and consumers but presents challenges for artists. Content platforms prioritize content creation over creators, creating a hit-today, gone-tomorrow environment.

To address this issue, a duty of care to creators is crucial, starting with setting realistic and aspirational goals. It's in everyone's interest to ensure the well-being and sustainable success of creators in this music economy, which shares similarities with the broader economy's challenges, such as sustainability and the growth of precarious jobs, contributing to economic inequality and mental health issues.

#5. Less about content, more about connection

To wrap up our Weekly Roundup, we wanted to leave you with a thought on our industry. 

The creator economy is going strong, giving anyone the chance to turn their passions into money-making content. Recent research shows that about 9% of social media users think of themselves as influencers, and a whopping 76% of them are actually making a decent living from it. But, here's the twist – creators are now wearing the broadcaster hat, and music, once just a catalyst for the creator economy, is now pushing the broadcast economy forward.

Yet, challenges still loom over the music biz. While streaming has brought a lot of growth, it's slowing down. Plus, the way data flows in the industry isn't quite up to snuff. It's not just about creating content anymore; it's about forging meaningful connections with your audience. Interaction is the new key to success in the broadcast economy, where collaboration and collective efforts are shaping the landscape.

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