Billie Eilish And Stevie Wonder Among 200+ Artists Demanding Protection Against Predatory Use...

In a letter issued by the Artist Rights Alliance, more than 200 musicians and artists are pleading with technology companies not to develop Artificial Intelligence tools that would undermine, or fully replace, human songwriters and performers.

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A group of more than 200 high-profile musicians and estates have signed an official open letter demanding protections against the predatory use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which mimics human artists’ voices, songs, and overall likeness, according to new reports

The musicians who signed the letter are from a multitude of genres and musical eras. The A-list signers of the letter include Billie Eilish, Nicki Minaj, J Balvin, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Stevie Wonder and REM. The estates of both Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley also signed the letter in support. 

The letter itself was officially issued by the Artist Rights Alliance advocacy group. It makes the demand that technology companies must pledge to not develop AI tools that would undermine or replace human songwriters and artists.

“This assault on human creativity must be stopped. We must protect against the predatory use of AI to steal professional artists’ voices and likenesses, violate creators’ rights, and destroy the music ecosystem.” 

According to reports from The Guardian, the letter doesn’t call for a total ban on the use of AI in music and/or music production. In fact, it stated that responsible use of the new technology could actually benefit the industry. 

Most recently, there’s been an uptick in online creators and music producers using AI to have their favorite artists either cover their favorite songs, or create completely new ones. One particular example that went viral on social media was an individual who used AI to take John Lennon’s vocals to create a “new” song by The Beatles. 

This letter is also a small piece of a much larger battle that the entire music and entertainment industry is fighting. The use of AI presents multiple ethical and legal issues specifically regarding copyright infringements and labor rights. Pressure is being placed on lawmakers throughout the US to better regulate AI in all of its contexts. 

“Some of the biggest and most powerful companies are, without permission, using our work to train AI models,” the letter states. 

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“These efforts are directly aimed at replacing the work of human artists with massive quantities of AI-created ‘sounds’ and ‘images’ that substantially dilute the royalty pools that are paid out to artists.”

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During the entertainment industry’s union strikes in 2023, the use of AI was a major point of contention within the contract negotiations. 

Tennessee actually became the first US state to enact legislation specifically made to protect musicians from having their vocal likeness re-generated by AI for commercial purposes.

The legislation was introduced last month, and is known as the Ensuring Likeness, Voice, and Image Security Act, or “Elvis Act” for short. It will officially go into effect on July 1st, according to the Guardian. The Elvis Act will make it illegal to replicate an artist’s voice unless one is given strict consent. 

The Artist Rights Alliance is a non-profit organization that is run by veterans of the music industry, such as board member Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash. 

Various estates representing artists who have passed away have also signed the letter. Beyond AI, there’s been decades of debate over whether or not it’s morally right to use a deceased artist’s likeness after they’ve died. Now with AI, the opportunities have expanded for online creators to use old footage and audio of deceased artists to make new videos or music.