Apr 18 2019

SILICON VALLEY—What happens when AI becomes an artist? When an artificial intelligence algorithm creates music, who owns the copyright—and what happens when AI creates a song similar to one created by a human musician?

The law surrounding AI and copyright is unsettled, to say the least, and likely will evolve quickly as AI technology becomes even more sophisticated. Womble Bond Dickinson attorney Chris Mammen recently discussed this rapidly shifting legal area with The Verge.

Mammen notes that copyright law generally does not protect music “in the style of” other artists, since music is widely influenced by what has been done by earlier musicians, and copyright law generally protects specific works of authorship. This could have legal ramifications for training AI to mimic the style of a particular musician.

“Should the original artist whose style is being used to train an AI be allowed to have any [intellectual property] rights in the resulting recording? The traditional answer may well be ‘no,’ because the resulting work is not an original work of authorship by that artist,” Mammen tells The Verge.

However, Mammen notes that the very act of training AI on copyrighted music is a legally murky concept. He tells The Verge that the question of “When you purchase a song, are you also purchasing the right to use its audio as AI training data?” remains unclear.

Click here to read “We’ve Been Warned About AI and Music For Over 50 Years, But No One’s Prepared” in The Verge .

Chris Mammen, D. Phil. is a veteran intellectual property litigator and thought leader in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. He has been litigating patents and technology cases since the start of the first dot.com boom in the late 1990s. With the growth of artificial intelligence, Chris has emerged as a leading commentator on both AI in intellectual property law, and ethical issues surrounding using AI in law practice.