Musicians turn to NIL rights in the battle with AI

Musicians find an AI loophole

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The Future. As musicians fight back against their voices being used in AI generations, name, image, and likeness (NIL) laws may be a more foolproof pathway than copyright law… at least for now. These laws could act as a stopgap for artists who don’t want a digital copycat releasing music (i.e., most artists). However, some novel mix of NIL laws and copyright laws will likely be written to govern AI in the long run.

Singular voice
Musical acts may already have a decent tool to fight back against AI clones of their voices: NIL laws.

  • NIL laws already protect against the unauthorized use of a person’s likeness, which, for musicians at least, is the most important aspect to put guardrails around when it comes to AI.
  • Meanwhile, applying copyright law to music is tougher because a song is compiled of the efforts of many different artists (and labels own the finished recording), as opposed to, say, a screenplay, book, or painting.
  • And while there’s no federal NIL law, 14 states have laws on file, including industry capitals like California and New York (though protections are a little all over the place).
  • Additionally, the decisions in recent music and sports lawsuits could act as precedents for future legal battles.

The NIL approach is already being embraced by the major labels, with Warner Music Group recently striking an experimental licensing partnership with YouTube that’s received the consent of artists like Yo Gotti and Ryan Tedder.

But, as The Verge points out, NIL laws still present a few wrinkles to iron out, including how the rights to “publicity” will be handled in future label contracts (likely a union issue) and how things like homage, parody, and cover songs will be handled (a legal issue).

Talk about some complicated engineering.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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