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Anyone who saw OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s testimony before a Senate panel on Tuesday suddenly learned about the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Sound Stock exchangea music technology organization founded 20 years ago to collect and distribute royalties from digital music platforms to music creators.
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has repeatedly questioned Altman about how songwriters and music artists should be compensated when their works are used by AI companies. She told Altman that the Nashville music community “should be able to decide whether their copyrighted songs and images will be used to train these models,” and asked him if he preferred something like SoundExchange for collecting and distributing money to compensate artists. .
While Altman said he had “never heard of SoundExchange,” he agreed that “content creators should take advantage of this technology.”
Michael Huppe, president and CEO of SoundExchange, and an adjunct professor of music law at Georgetown University, told VentureBeat that he was “happy” with Blackburn’s comments given the rapidly changing landscape where a song made by AI to sound like Drake and The Weeknd can go viral; Grimes can launch a platform where anyone can use their voice to create AI-generated songs; and Timbaland AI can use to release a song featuring the long-dead Notorious BIG
“I want to applaud Senator Blackburn for having the foresight to recognize that we need to find a way to properly engage the creative class in this regime,” Huppe told VentureBeat. “AI is not going away. So I was pleased to see Senator Blackburn focus on the creative class — the need to compensate them, the need to protect their work.
Not just performers – even the NFL is concerned
How AI development affects creative workers isn’t just about the music industry, Huppe stressed. He pointed to the March launch of the Human artistry Campaign, a set of principles outlining the responsible use of AI to “support human creativity and achievement with respect to the inimitable value of human artistry and expression.” The campaign, he said, is joined by more than 100 organizations representing songwriters, musicians, authors, literary agents, publishers, voice actors and photographers — as well as non-artistic entities such as sports organizations, including the Major League Baseball Players Association and the NFL. Players Association.
Why exercise? “Many players take advantage of their name, image and likeness,” said Huppe. “So this isn’t just about copyright when we talk about what’s happening [with AI]. It’s also how generative AI – be it text, images, audio or video – can benefit those who have built their brand and personality. You have someone else trying to take advantage of that without permission.
Creative class “gets louder” about AI
The bottom line, Huppe said, is how AI uses creators’ work should be their choice. “It’s about fairness and control so that the creative class can’t just let these things be taken away from them.”
Huppe pointed out that there’s already a burgeoning market of people licensing their works for AI, like how OpenAI licensed images from Shutterstock to train its models. “You can imagine a world where that’s starting to become the norm,” he said, “where there’s an organized licensing structure and ethical AI companies can know what’s allowed to scrape and what’s forbidden… and where they can share some of their sharing profits with the creative community.”
With other industries pushing back on generative AI – including lawsuits submitted by visual artists, remarkable Hollywood writers and union formation journalists – and celebrities like Justine Bateman And Lurch speaking out, Huppe said the creative class is “getting louder right now.”
Music, he said, has often been like “the marines on the beach” when it comes to dealing with new technologies that ultimately affect all industries: “There’s almost no industry that isn’t at risk of being really impacted by generative AI. It’s on everyone’s mind.”
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