Oct 12, 2023 2 min read

US record industry adds voice cloning sites to its official piracy gripe list

The RIAA has included voice cloning services - in particular UK-based Voicify - in its latest submission to the US government as it works on its next Notorious Markets report that lists piracy operations of concern

US record industry adds voice cloning sites to its official piracy gripe list

The Recording Industry Association Of America has added unauthorised AI vocal clone services to its list of piracy gripes, urging the US government to include such services in its next Notorious Markets report. In particular, Voicify.

AI models that can be used to create new tracks that imitate the vocals of established artists have become a big talking point this year.

Legally speaking, assuming that such models are trained using the songs and recordings of the artists being imitated, then the music industry would argue that the maker of the model needs to secure licences from whoever controls the copyright in that existing music.

Although, some AI companies have argued that this is not necessarily the case, usually relying on copyright exceptions in certain jurisdictions or the fair use concept in the US. Copyright owners are adamant no exceptions apply - and training an AI model in this way is not fair use - though these arguments are still being tested in court.

With voice cloning AI, there is also the legal concept of publicity rights. Even if a copyright exception did apply - or an artist didn't own the copyright in their music - in many countries consent may still be required from the artist because the AI is exploiting their publicity, personality or image rights.

Quite how these rights work varies from country to country, and in the UK the concept doesn't currently exist.

Either way, the RIAA reckons voice cloning services should join stream-ripping sites, unlicensed download and streaming platforms, and the good old Pirate Bay on the Notorious Markets list. That is the American government's annual document that outlines websites and physical marketplaces based outside the US where intellectual property rights are routinely infringed.

The RIAA always makes a submission to inform that document, and its latest submission notes that this year has seen "an 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".

"This has led to an explosion of unauthorised derivative works of our members’ sound recordings which harm sound recording artists and copyright owners", it went on, adding that "several of these services are located outside of the United States".

That includes Voicify, which is operated by a UK-based company, and which also has a stream-ripping element to it. Double the fun!

"This site markets itself as the 'number one platform for making high quality AI covers in seconds!' - and includes AI vocal models of sound recording artists”. Artists like Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Elvis Presley, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Adele and Ed Sheeran.

"The service stream-rips the YouTube video selected by the user”, the RIAA explains, “copies the acapella from the track, modifies the acapella using the AI vocal model, and then provides to the user unauthorised copies of the modified acapella stem, the underlying instrumental bed, and the modified remixed recording. This unauthorised activity infringes copyright as well as infringing the sound recording artist’s rights of publicity".

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