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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Why did Universal ask YouTube to take down an AI Eminem track?

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MBW Explains is a collection of analytical options during which we discover the context behind main music business speaking factors – and counsel what may occur subsequent.


This week, a YouTuber with over 2.9 million subscribers revealed on Twitter that that they had acquired a copyright strike from YouTube for a preferred video they posted on their channel.

Titled, ‘I requested AI to write down an Eminem rap about cats’, Grandayy’s video included an AI-generated monitor that includes vocals that mimic Eminem’s voice. The video was featured by John Oliver in February on an episode of HBO’s Final Week Tonight.

YouTube issued the strike and eliminated the video from its platform after a takedown request was submitted by Common Music Publishing Group, which signed a worldwide administration settlement with Eminem in 2007.

Grandayy claimed on Twitter: “Common Music Group simply determined to copyright strike my AI Eminem Cat Rap video. Often they simply declare and monetize movies like this however they actually wished AI Eminem to be taken down for some purpose.”

In response to YouTube’s FAQs, receiving a copyright strike “signifies that a copyright proprietor submitted a complete and valid legal takedown request for utilizing their copyright-protected content material”.

The FAQs add: “Once we get any such formal notification, we take down your video to adjust to copyright regulation”.


Using synthetic intelligence in music is stirring up quite a bit of debate proper now.

One specific use of AI for lyric writing went viral in January after a Nick Cave fan requested the ChatGPT system to write down lyrics ‘within the model of Nick Cave’, with the artist calling the top product “a grotesque mockery“.

However past text-based AI, some of the transformative makes use of of synthetic intelligence in music proper now’s the usage of AI engines to imitate human vocals.

MBW wrote about this in November, once we revealed that Tencent Music Leisure had launched over 1,000 songs with human-mimicking AI vocals – and that one among them had already achieved 100 million streams.

We additionally reported on this development again in 2021 and once more in 2022, when HYBE, the corporate behind BTS, initially invested in, and subsequently acquired, voice AI firm Supertone in a $32 million deal.

Supertone claims to have the ability to create “a hyper-realistic and expressive voice that [is not] distinguishable from actual people”.

Extra not too long ago, a high-profile instance of a preferred artist’s vocals being mimicked by AI got here from David Guetta.

In February, Guetta revealed that “as a joke”, he’d requested an AI platform to write down lyrics within the model of Eminem.

Guetta then used an AI software to imitate Eminem’s voice utilizing these lyrics, earlier than taking part in the ensuing audio in a stay set. He stated that his viewers went “nuts” in response.

The David Guetta story threw up numerous moral and authorized questions on the usage of AI to imitate one other artist’s vocals with out their permission.

This was additional put to the check final month in a wild viral video from ‘entrepreneur and designer’ Roberto Nickson, during which Nickson used an AI audio mannequin of Kanye West (aka: Ye) to show his personal voice into that of the controversial celebrity.

(If you happen to haven’t seen Nickson’s very spectacular, but fairly unsettling video, it’s a must-watch – check it out here.)

Nickson provided a glimpse into the way forward for how this sort of AI could be used. He predicted that in years to return, “each well-liked musician could have a number of educated [vocal] fashions of them”.

He added: “Issues are going to maneuver very quick over the subsequent two years. You’re going to be listening to songs by your favourite artists which might be utterly indistinguishable. You’re not going to know whether or not it’s them or not.”


A supply tells MBW that the problem at hand within the Grandayy takedown request was merely a musical one: the music used within the YouTuber’s monitor was, in Common’s view, created within the model of the musical composition for Eminem’s hit Not Afraid, which itself has been streamed over 819 million occasions on Spotify alone.

In different phrases, UMPG believed that the backing music used within the Grandayy AI monitor infringed on the copyright of Eminem’s unique hit. That’s why a takedown request was issued to YouTube by Common – not due to the AI vocals that mimicked Eminem’s voice.

Speaking to VICE, Grandayy argued that the AI Eminem rap monitor was a parody, stating: “On one hand I completely perceive if copyright homeowners need to shield their artwork and take down movies that declare or insinuate that they had been created by the artist themselves, or movies that attempt to mimic the unique artwork and subsequently compete with it.”

Grandayy added: “However my video and so many others are simply apparent enjoyable transformative parodies that present no hurt to the unique artwork — if something they’re most likely of profit to them — so it’s unhappy to see a document label take down movies like this.”

Parodic works are allowed in copyright regulation provided they’re “transformative”, i.e. offered in a means that considerably adjustments the unique work, and in the event that they don’t compete with the unique in the identical market. (YouTube units out its truthful use insurance policies round parody and pastiche in accordance with copyright regulation, here.)

Grandayy has urged that UMG often “simply declare[s] and monetize[s] movies like this however they actually wished AI Eminem to be taken down for some purpose”.

One other supply with data of how UMG’s take-down requests work tells us that, as a matter of coverage, the corporate chooses to not monetize ‘unauthorized spinoff’ works – i.e content material that UMG believes infringes on an unique monitor’s composition, lyrics or different parts with out permission.

A Ultimate Thought

It’s not clear if the supposedly infringing music accompanying Grandayy’s AI-generated vocals was additionally generated by AI. But when so, it speaks to a problematic subject for the trendy music biz.

The incident throws up a number of questions in regards to the copyright implications of generative AI’s use in music, and why it’s changing into a rising concern within the wider music business.

This was highlighted by the current launch, by a coalition of over 30 events together with the RIAA, the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange, of a marketing campaign at SXSW in Austin final month setting out seven “Core Ideas for Synthetic Intelligence Functions” geared toward supporting ‘human artistry.

Included in those principles are that ‘the usage of copyrighted works, and use of the voices and likenesses {of professional} performers, requires authorization, licensing, and compliance with all related state and federal legal guidelines’.

Michael Nash, Common Music Group’s Govt Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, additionally not too long ago penned an op/ed for MBW, during which he highlighted among the copyright issues round AI-generated content material.

In that op/ed, Nash wrote, that: “AI is remodeling the methods we stay, work and play – from chatbots that reply complicated inquiries to techniques that may write satisfactory screenplays to applications which have handed a part of a bar examination within the US.

He added: “AI is now creating imagery corresponding to skilled artists — with one AI-generated portrait being bought for £40,000 at Sotheby’s and one other composition winning a State Fair competition in Colorado.

“However what many individuals don’t notice is that almost all of those AI techniques purchase their important base of ‘data’ from huge portions of copyrighted content material, with out searching for consent from, nor offering compensation to, those that really produce and personal this indispensable supply materials.”Music Enterprise Worldwide


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