Some important context to Kyncl’s article: Today (December 6), the EU’s AI Act stands on the precipice of becoming a landmark legal framework for artificial intelligence. Widely regarded as the world’s first serious attempt to regulate AI via the law, the bill is entering the final phase of the legislative process, with the EU Parliament, Commission, and Council ruling on what it will include – and what it won’t.
Needless to say, EU lawmakers have been lobbied by many sides of the AI debate in recent months. This includes music copyright owners keen to protect the value of songs, recordings, and the ‘name and likeness’ of established stars. It also includes global tech giants who have argued that generative AI’s ingestion of copyrighted material, in many instances, should be given a legal free pass under so-called ‘fair use’ exemptions.
Since starting his job as CEO of WMG at the beginning of this year, Robert Kyncl has established himself as one of the entertainment industry’s foremost voices on the opportunities – and the challenges – that AI creates for music.
In February, Kyncl called generative AI “one of the most transformative things that humanity has ever seen”. Since then, he’s been consistent with his core message: when it comes to engaging with AI, artists must have a choice.
In the last few months, Kyncl and his team have helped artists exercise that choice, running AI experiments with stars including Sia, Charlie Puth, and Roberta Flack. WMG has also used AI technology to recreate the voice of late French icon Edith Piaf, as well as Costa Rican rock legend José Capmany, in collaboration with their estates.
Over to Robert…
At Netflix and YouTube, and now at Warner Music Group, I’ve spent almost my entire career at the intersection of technology and entertainment. That crossroad is fast-paced, always changing, and full of possibilities. With AI, I see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to unlock exciting new creativity and commerce – but only if we incentivize everyone involved by simultaneously embracing technology and respecting intellectual property.
Right now, in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act, EU lawmakers have the chance to turbocharge investment in Europe’s culture and technology sectors and set a global example for how successful AI companies should operate.
“Our position on AI is simple. If artists and songwriters want to lean into it, they should benefit from their participation. If they want to be protected, that should be their right too.”
Our position on AI is simple. If artists and songwriters want to lean into it, they should benefit from their participation. If they want to be protected, that should be their right too. Our company is eager to partner with AI firms building ground-breaking applications based around artist and songwriter consent and free-market compensation.
The text from the European Parliament proposes light-touch transparency and record-keeping obligations for enormously popular technologies like ChatGPT. While the Parliament’s text needs to be strengthened to make the obligations truly effective, it lays a constructive foundation for establishing responsible generative AI in Europe.
France, Germany, and Italy – the three largest EU Member States – have expressed concerns that these obligations would encourage AI companies to invest elsewhere. As someone who has seen the impact of successive waves of technology on culture, I can say this claim is unfounded. Europe leads the world in how it tracks the provenance of luxury goods, fashion, wine, cheese, even visual art. Music and other forms of entertainment should be treated the same way.
“Requiring generative AI companies to comply with these transparency and record-keeping requirements will boost the value of AI in Europe and provide the creative community with the means to ensure their rights are being respected.”
Requiring generative AI companies to comply with these transparency and record-keeping requirements will boost the value of AI in Europe and provide the creative community with the means to ensure their rights are being respected and are not being used without authorisation. This will help foster a stable free-market licensing environment, avoid costly and lengthy litigation, and promote commerce.
Overregulation can stifle innovation, but setting the right regulatory framework supports it. Respect for intellectual property and innovation are not at odds. Europe should not sacrifice its world-class creative sector, and the jobs it supports, in an attempt to attract investment from AI companies. With the right regulatory framework in place, both sectors can thrive together.
I urge the EU to seize this opportunity to be a first mover and world leader in securing an exciting, dynamic future for both its nascent AI sector and its robust creative industries.
Enacting an AI Act with some simple but meaningful transparency and record-keeping requirements is an essential initial step towards having a chance at protecting and growing European cultural industries.
A French language version of this article appeared this morning in Les Echos.Music Business Worldwide