Creating an Environment in
which Music and Creators can thrive

The landscape for music is evolving at an unprecedented pace. It brings new and exciting opportunities for artists and their fans worldwide. However, it also presents challenges to ensuring that music’s value is properly recognised and that those who invest time, effort, resources and talent in creating and releasing music do not see their work exploited or used without consent.

Embracing human creativity in the time of AI    

Used responsibly, AI can contribute to amazing creative opportunities and enhance human artistry. The music community has been at the forefront of technological change for decades – and it is with AI, as well. Record labels and artists have been using AI as a marketing and production tool for years, including using it to enhance the creative process and collaborate on cutting-edge projects.

Facing the challenge of generative AI

Generative AI presents particular challenges for the music industry. High quality content is one of the key inputs for high quality AI systems, on the same level of importance as technical talent and computing power in which AI companies invest vast sums of money. However, many generative AI developers are “training” their models on large amounts of copyright-protected content (including musical works and sound recordings) without authorisation from, or payment to, rightsholders. That is the case even though they produce outputs based on the content they ingest – cannibalising artists’ business,.   

Using large amounts of music without authorisation to produce clones of the original content or products that compete directly with the original works or recordings, presents a fundamental problem for the music ecosystem. It is not right that a generative AI company can create a commercial, consumer-facing product developed on the back of artists’ creative output, refuse to compensate them or other rightsholders, and then have that product compete with those artists and rightsholders whose creative inputs they have appropriated. To put it another way, what incentives are there for anyone in the creative communities to produce original works if they are going to be taken, for free, and used to build lucrative generative AI businesses by technology companies?

The solution:

AI developers must respect existing laws

International treaties, free trade agreements, and national laws worldwide ensure that copyright works and recordings cannot be used without authorisation from rightsholders. They also require that any exceptions to these rights must be limited and must not unreasonably prejudice rightsholders. These general rules also apply to the use of copyright content in the context of AI.  

Using copyright-protected materials to train an AI system is not “fair use” and there is no justification for governments to create new exceptions to copyright for the purpose of AI training. The music industry has a long-standing record of licensing its content for various technologies and partners and it is working with AI companies to enable responsible and ethical AI.

AI developers must not be allowed to appropriate an artist’s voice, image, name or likeness without authorisation 

Alongside the rise of deepfakes on social media, the music market has seen a proliferation of AI ‘voice cloning’ models that let others generate synthetic content that mimics an artist’s voice, image, name and likeness without authorisation.

This activity can mislead fans, causing potentially serious harm to an artist’s reputation as well as interfering with carefully planned promotional campaigns for the artist’s legitimate releases. It distorts competition by allowing those generating the clones to unfairly compete with artists whose music and likeness has been used to train the AI, unfairly leveraging the goodwill the artist has built with their fans, as well as the significant label investment which has been made in that artist’s career.  

The issue, therefore, calls for the robust application and – where needed – enhancement of intellectual property (or other) rights to ensure that artists are able to protect their voice and likeness, which are at the heart of their artistic identity.

AI systems must be transparent about the content used to train them

To ensure their rights can be fairly and effectively licensed and enforced, and to provide clarity to consumers about the nature of the content they are interacting with, generative AI developers must be transparent regarding the source material used to train their systems. Rightsholders must be able to verify whether their work has been used in the development of a generative AI model or by a generative AI system. Nobody can have confidence in the efficacy of an AI product unless they understand what went into making it.

It is therefore essential and reasonable to hold AI developers responsible for documenting the content they have used to train their models and to disclose that information to those with a legitimate interest in that information. Systems already exist to enable this.

The EU AI Act: world-first, first-step legislation

The European Union has adopted legislation that regulates the development and use of AI and represents an important step forward for AI governance and its responsible and sustainable development. For example, it obliges developers of generative AI systems to adopt policies to ensure the respect of copyright and to be transparent about the materials they have used to train their models. Crucially, these obligations will apply to models placed on the EU market regardless of where they have been developed in order to prevent them from gaining a competitive advantage by training somewhere with lower copyright standards.

IFPI conducted one of the largest music consumer studies in the world in 2023 – with over 43,000 music fans across 26 countries: 

Authorisation for the use of music was seen as extremely important:

  • 76% felt that an artist’s work should not be used without their permission.
  • 73% agreed that an AI system should clearly list the music it has used.

Cornerstones to a thriving music ecosystem

  • Recognise music’s value

Music has always had deep cultural and economic value and public policies must ensure that this value is fully recognised and protected in the marketplace.  This means requiring that anyone who seeks to use copyright-protected music on their platform or as part of their service obtains permission from the rightsholder before using the music. The breakdown in this long-established incentive structure would create significant harm.

  • Respect the importance of ‘exclusive rights’ in music

‘Exclusive rights’ ensure that rightsholders can control the use of their work and earn money from it. Policymakers increasingly understand the value of rightsholders being able to choose whether and on what terms to authorise the use of their work, which is the foundation for a successful licensing market.

Governments must uphold not only those exclusive rights but also clear copyright liability rules with strong enforcement. 

  • Support music’s competitive marketplace

The music market today is highly competitive, and artists have more choice than ever before in how they create and deliver their music to fans worldwide. Artists who choose to partner with a record label do so to benefit from the label’s resources, experience and expertise, and draw on their creative input, global networks, and analytics and marketing capabilities. Through these partnerships, artists develop new creative and commercial opportunities that can lead to further success.

The increasingly competitive environment has directly benefited artists. An IFPI study shows that record companies’ payments to their artists increased by 96% between 2016 and 2021.

Policymakers should support a competitive marketplace where artists and their commercial partners are free to develop new partnerships that enable them to increase revenue from existing sources and generate revenue from new ones to the benefit of all parties. 

  1. Protect creators’ content

To prevent further infringements to their rights,effective enforcement measures and procedures are needed to ensure that rightsholders can take swift and effective action when their works or recordings have been used without permission.

This includes measures against the operators of infringing services and against intermediaries that enable the infringing activities by providing access, infrastructure and monetisation tools to infringing services. For example, mobile app store providers must step up in their efforts to stop the increasing incidence of infringements via the apps that are available in their stores. 

Additionally, as the internet is borderless, the availability of effective cross-border measures is crucial. Governments should ensure that law enforcement authorities have adequate resources and expertise to effectively pursue criminal actions against perpetrators in the most serious cases.     

Authorities must have the authority to order intermediaries, such as internet access providers, to block access to infringing or fraudulent online services. This is now established practice in a growing number of places from India to Latin America and across the EU.

Governments should also ensure that internet intermediaries’ immunity from copyright liability (also known as ‘safe harbours’) is limited to technical, automatic, and passive intermediaries and comes with meaningful conditions, including ensuring the expeditious “stay down” of notified content and taking credible steps to verify their business customers.

Tackling streaming fraud

Streaming fraud involves the creation of artificial ‘plays’ on digital music streaming services that do not represent genuine listening. This activity constitutes fraud and damages the fan experience, distorting charts and playlists. Its perpetrators are diverting revenues away from genuine artists whilst making it harder for new and developing artists to come through.

IFPI, on behalf of its member record companies, continues to take legal action against the individuals behind sites that sell artificial plays which has resulted in sites in Germany and Brazil shutting down. IFPI will continue to target the most-used services worldwide. 

More must be done. IFPI welcomes the publicly stated commitment of music services and distributors to work together to combat streaming fraud and remove incentives for it. Further, global search engines should delist links to sites that offer artificial interactions (such as artificial streams) and intermediaries (such as hosting providers, domain registries/registrars and payment providers) should not provide services or infrastructure to these sites.  The recording industry also needs the support of governments and law enforcement agencies to take on this issue and recognise the broader impact that streaming fraud is having on the trust in digital services generally.

Combatting streaming fraud is essential not only to protect a healthy streaming economy that works for artists, fans and the industry, but to ensure a healthy and trustworthy online environment for all.