Songwriters Urge Congress to Protect Human Creators Amid Widespread Artificial Intelligence Use

Songwriters Urge Congress to Protect Human Creators Amid Widespread Artificial Intelligence Use
Attendees take pictures and interact with the Engineered Arts Ameca humanoid robot with artificial intelligence as it is demonstrated during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 5, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts
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Award-winning songwriters and composers are set to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Sept. 21 to discuss protecting the rights of music creators amid a rise in artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

About 30 members of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), a membership association of more than 935,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers, will meet with lawmakers, the organization announced on Wednesday.

They include songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who have penned songs for singers including Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson, and pop songwriter Madison Love, who has written music for artists including Ava Max and Pink.

“Artificial intelligence is moving at the speed of light and we need lawmakers to act now,” said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthew in a statement. “We fully embrace innovation but only innovation coupled with regulation that protects the rights of creators.”

During their meeting, ASCAP members will urge Congress to act fast and address the threats posed by AI in the music sector. They will also call on lawmakers to adhere to six key, creator-centered principles for AI that were unanimously adopted by the ASCAP Board of Directors earlier this year.
Those principles prioritize the rights and compensation of human creators first, protect artists in decisions regarding whether their work can be used to train AI, ensure creators are paid fairly for their work when it is used in any way by AI, and make sure creators are credited when their work is used in new AI-generated music.

Congress Should ‘Put Humans First’

Additionally, the principles ensure transparency in identifying AI content versus human-generated content, and global consistency that “evens the playing field” when it comes to intellectual property across the entire music and data ecosystem.

Earlier on Sept. 20, ASCAP hosted a “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress.

“True music comes from deep within our souls; it’s human-first, heart songs, revealing and often healing our human condition,” said Paul Williams, president and chairman of the board of ASCAP, in the announcement. “Now we need Congress to put humans first, stand with songwriters, and protect our rights to our own musical works. Don’t give them away to AI.”

The ASCAP meeting with lawmakers comes amid negotiations between striking screenwriters and Hollywood studios, which have put a halt to film and television productions. Screenwriters have also raised concerns over the use of AI in scriptwriting, along with issues regarding pay and increased rights.

Meanwhile, members of Congress recently took part in a closed-door forum on AI alongside civil rights leaders and big tech bosses such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, X chairman Elon Musk, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

During the forum, leaders and lawmakers discussed the risks and benefits associated with the technology amid its increasingly widespread use, as well as how Congress can best move forward in implementing safeguards for the development of AI.

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have introduced legislative proposals aimed at establishing rules for the use of AI, it is looking increasingly less likely that any meaningful legislation protecting Americans from the dangers of such advanced technology will be rolled out within the next year.

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