YouTube is training its AI tool to create music using copyrighted works. However, this endeavor has resulted in tension with major label companies due to the questionable usage of copyrighted material to train its AI. 

YouTube’s experiment on AI music

YouTube began its experiment on making AI music with an AI-powered tool called Dream Track. This tool is supposed to help creators come up with music for their content using the voices of famous singers. Google Deepmind is using Lyria, its music generation model, to generate tracks through prompts. Musicians who collaborated with YouTube for this project are Charli XCX, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Sia and many more.

According to a report by Billboard, despite obtaining one-off licenses before the rollout of Dream Track, the negotiation was made harder because Google and YouTube had already trained its AI using the recordings before getting permission. Thus, the artists and labels can’t “opt out” of AI training. 

Google claims that AI models typically require training that uses existing works before they can generate new content. Tech companies assert that their process falls under “fair use,” where the U.S. legal doctrine allows for certain situations. 

“Innovation in AI fundamentally depends on the ability of [large language models] to learn in the computational sense from the widest possible variety of publicly available material,” Google said. 

However, rights holders beg to differ and call the process copyright infringement instead. According to Dennis Kooker, President of Global Digital Business and U.S. Sales for Sony Music Entertainment, AI training, which results in music that competes in the music industry, “cannot be without consent, credit and compensation to the artists and rights holders.”

This issue on the use of copyrighted material has already led to several lawsuits. Universal Music Group filed a case against Anthropic for using copyrighted lyrics to train Claude 2. Authors George R.R. Martin and Jodi Picoult also filed a lawsuit against ChatGPT for its unauthorized usage of trademarked literary texts. 

Despite these issues, YouTube says it remains committed to collaborating with major labels. 

“We remain committed to working collaboratively with our partners across the music industry to develop AI responsibly and in a way that rewards participants with long-term opportunities for monetization, controls and attribution for potential genAI tools and content down the road,” the company’s statement reads.