European Union Passes ‘World First’ AI Legislation That Would Safeguard Copyrighted Music – Billboard

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LONDON — Sweeping new laws regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe, including controls around the use of copyrighted music, have been approved by the European Parliament, following fierce lobbying from both the tech and music communities.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favor of the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act by a clear majority of 523 votes for, 46 against and 49 abstentions. The “world first” legislation, which was first proposed in April 2021 and covers a wide range of AI applications including biometric surveillance and predictive policing, was provisionally approved in December, but Wednesday’s vote formally establishes its passage into law.

The act places a number of legal and transparency obligations on tech companies and AI developers operating in Europe, including those working in the creative sector and music business. Among them is the core requirement that companies using generative AI or foundation AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Anthropic’s Claude 2 provide detailed summaries of any copyrighted works, including music, that they have used to train their systems.

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Significantly, the law’s transparency provisions apply regardless of when or where in the world a tech company scraped its data from. For instance, even if an AI developer scraped copyrighted music and/or trained its systems in a non-EU country — or bought data sets from outside the 27-member state — as soon as they are used or made available in Europe the company is required to make publicly available a “sufficiently detailed summary” of all copyright protected music it has used to create AI works. 

There is also a requirement that any training data sets used in generative AI music or audio-visual works are water marked, so there is a traceable path for rights holders to track and block the illegal use of their catalog. 

In addition, content created by AI, as opposed to human works, must be clearly labeled as such, while tech companies have to ensure that their systems cannot be used to generate illegal and infringing content.

Large tech companies who break the rules – which govern all applications of AI inside the 27-member block of EU countries, including so-called “high risk” uses — will face fines of up to €35 million or 7% of global annual turnover. Start-up businesses or smaller tech operations will receive proportionate financial punishments. 

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s vote, which took place in Strasbourg, co-rapporteur Brando Benifei said the legislation means that “unacceptable AI practices will be banned in Europe and the rights of workers and citizens will be protected.” 

Co-rapporteur Dragos Tudorache called the AI Act “a starting point for a new model of governance built around technology.” 

European legislators first proposed introducing regulation of artificial intelligence in 2021, although it was the subsequent launch of ChatGPT — followed by the high-profile release of “Heart on My Sleeve,” a track that featured AI-powered imitations of vocals by Drake and The Weeknd, last April — that made many music executives sit up and pay closer attention to the technology’s potential impact on the record business. 

In response, lobbyists stepped up their efforts to convince lawmakers to add transparency provisions around the use of music in AI – a move which was fiercely opposed by the technology industry, which argued that tougher regulations would put European AI developers at a competitive disadvantage.

Now that the AI Act has been approved by the European Parliament, the legislation will undergo a number of procedural rubber-stamping stages before it is published in the EU’s Official Journal — most likely in late April or early May — with its regulations coming into force 20 days after that. 

There are, however, tiered exceptions for tech companies to comply with its terms and some of its provisions are not fully applicable for up to two-years after its enactment. (The rules governing existing generative AI models commence after 12 months, although any new generative AI companies or models entering the European market after the Act has come into force have to immediately comply with its regulations).

In response to Wednesday’s vote, a coalition of European creative and copyright organizations, including global recorded-music trade body IFPI and international music publishing trade group ICMP, issued a joint statement thanking regulators and MEPs for the “essential role they have played in supporting creators and rightsholders.”

“While these obligations provide a first step for rightsholders to enforce their rights, we call on the European Parliament to continue to support the development of responsible and sustainable AI by ensuring that these important rules are put into practice in a meaningful and effective way,” said the 18 signatories, which also included European independent labels trade association IMPALA, European Authors Society GESAC and CISAC, the international trade organization for copyright collecting societies.

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