The use of generative AI has sparked significant controversy, particularly regarding its access to copyrighted material. Ed Newton-Rex, the vice president of audio at Stability AI, recently made headlines when he resigned from his position, citing concerns about the use of copyrighted content in training generative AI models. In an op-ed for Music Business Worldwide, he expressed his belief that this practice does not qualify as fair use.
Newton-Rex’s departure aligns him with other notable figures, including artists like Bad Bunny, who have publicly criticized the use of generative AI in creating content. These concerns have been further highlighted by instances such as the creation of a viral TikTok song that mimicked Bad Bunny’s voice using AI.
Conversely, many AI companies have adamantly supported the concept of fair use, which involves training AI models with copyrighted material without seeking permission or compensating the content creators. In this context, Newton-Rex’s resignation represents a departure from the prevailing industry stance. He stated in his resignation letter that Stability AI takes a more nuanced view of the issue compared to its competitors. However, he took issue with the company’s submission to the United States Copyright Office, which argued that AI development should fall under fair use.
In his public statement, Newton-Rex emphasized the potential impact of generative AI models on the market for copyrighted works. As an accomplished classical composer and the founder of Jukedeck, a company that utilized AI to create music, he brought a unique perspective to the debate. Prior to joining Stability AI, he had also held positions at TikTok’s in-house AI lab and Voicey, which was later acquired by Snap.
Interestingly, there has also been a push to protect AI-produced work, although it has not yet been successful. In a notable ruling, a judge upheld the decision of the US Copyright Office, which stated that AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted due to the lack of human authorship.
This ongoing debate underscores the complex ethical and legal considerations surrounding generative AI and its interaction with copyrighted material. As AI technology continues to advance, it is likely that these issues will remain at the forefront of industry discussions and policy considerations. The ramifications of these debates extend beyond the realm of music and art, and have broader implications for intellectual property rights and the evolving landscape of creative expression.
Looking ahead, it is crucial for industry stakeholders, legal experts, and policymakers to engage in thoughtful dialogue and collaboration to develop frameworks that address these concerns while fostering innovation and creativity. Finding a balance between protecting the rights of content creators and enabling the responsible development and use of generative AI will be vital in shaping the future of this rapidly evolving industry.