In a significant development, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is advocating for the inclusion of AI voice cloning on the government's piracy watch list. This unprecedented move raises questions about copyright infringement and artists' rights in the realm of AI voice synthesis.
The RIAA, a prominent representative of record labels, traditionally petitions for various forms of piracy to be included in the piracy watch list. While torrenting, stream ripping, and other traditional forms of piracy remain on the list, the addition of AI voice cloning marks a new frontier.
It asserts that AI voice cloning, also known as 'AI voice synthesis' or 'AI voice filters,' infringes on copyrights and artists' rights to their voices. Specific scrutiny is directed towards Voicify.AI, a U.S.-based AI voice cloning site that emulates famous artists and political figures.
The RIAA claims that Voicify.AI's service involves cloning the voices of renowned artists and political figures by replicating sound recordings without proper authorization. The process includes extracting acapella from YouTube videos, modifying it using AI vocal models, and providing unauthorized copies to users.
One of the legal challenges posed by AI voice cloning is the artists' right of publicity, a protection against the commercial exploitation of a public figure's name, likeness, and voice without consent. Although this right varies by state and diminishes after a public figure's death, it remains a common legal argument against AI voice cloning in the music industry.
AI voice cloning technology gained widespread recognition when an anonymous TikTok user used AI to mimic the voices of prominent artists in a song, triggering copyright concerns and takedown requests from record labels.
In response to AI-related copyright issues, Universal Music Group's general counsel proposed the establishment of a "federal right of publicity" to safeguard artists' voices. This suggests the need for legal frameworks that address evolving challenges in the digital age.
AI models available globally, including those potentially infringing on copyrights, often operate from countries outside the U.S. This geographical diversity creates regulatory challenges, as the U.S. government has limited recourse to address alleged piracy concerns.
Countries such as China, Israel, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore have adopted diverse approaches to AI regulation, contributing to a complex regulatory landscape and enabling AI companies to thrive abroad.
The RIAA's call for AI voice cloning to be added to the piracy watch list places the technology at a pivotal juncture. The U.S. Trade Representative must now review this request, alongside recommendations from other industry groups, and determine whether AI voice cloning warrants inclusion. The final decision, expected at the beginning of the next year, will shape the future of AI voice synthesis and copyright protection.
As AI voice cloning enters the regulatory spotlight, the dialogue between technology, creativity, and legal protection continues to evolve, with far-reaching implications for artists, innovators, and the digital landscape.