Feb 1, 2024 2 min read

RIAA welcomes US government's latest piracy reports, but urges a "close look" at voice cloning sites

The office of the US Trade Representative has published its annual ‘Notorious Markets Report’ that lists online platforms that concern American copyright owners - the record industry has welcomed the report even though its request that unofficial voice cloning sites be included was ignored

RIAA welcomes US government's latest piracy reports, but urges a "close look" at voice cloning sites

The Recording Industry Association Of America has welcomed the latest 'Notorious Markets Report' on piracy platforms published by the US government, but also called for “invasive and unlawful voice clones and deepfakes” to become part of the annual piracy list. 

The trade group’s SVP International Policy George York said the report - produced by the office of US Trade Representative Katherine Tai - does a good job of documenting websites and internet companies that "undermine the US comparative advantage to the detriment of American workers and creators, causing significant financial losses and eroding the creative sector's massive contributions to the US economy - good jobs, wages, and growth".

However, he also called for “a close look in the future at emerging piracy challenges presented by AI, including the widespread illegal use of copyrighted sound recordings and artist names, images, and likenesses to generate invasive and unlawful voice clones and deepfakes". 

The RIAA did raise its concerns around AI and voice cloning when making its submission to the USTR last October. It highlighted the recent "eruption of unauthorised AI vocal clone services that infringe not only the rights of the artists whose voices are being cloned but also the rights of those that own the sound recordings in each underlying musical track".

With the 'Notorious Markets Report' being focused on piracy sites based outside the US, the RIAA specifically honed in on UK-based Voicify. "This site", it said, "markets itself as the 'number one platform for making high quality AI covers in seconds!' - and includes AI vocal models of sound recording artists”. 

While AI-powered voice cloning is not yet on radar of the USTR's piracy monitors, an assortment of other kinds of digital platforms are. That includes torrent websites, unlicensed streaming services, cyberlockers which are used to store copyright infringing content and hosting services that routinely and unapologetically ignore copyright takedown notices. 

And the stream-ripping sites that are still at the top of the music industry's piracy gripe list, for now at least, depending on the extent to which the voice cloning fad gains momentum. 

Among the sites listed in the report which allow people to grab permanent downloads of temporary streams is ssyoutube, which, the USTR says, "is reportedly the most popular YouTube ripping site globally, with over 343 million visitors just in April 2023. Among other things, stream ripping sites enable users to easily download music video and tracks from YouTube and similar sites". 

You can access the full report here.

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